by Len Lear
With the onset of the new year, it is inevitable that many people will make new year’s resolutions to lose weight, start working out, stop smoking, etc. but I doubt if many people will resolve to make plans to deal with end-of-life issues, even though all of us will have to confront those issues sooner or later.
Jeanne Hoff knows this as well as anyone. Hoff, 73 (“You know that CoCo Chanel says to never trust a woman who tells you her real age,” she said), lives in Valley Forge with her husband, Bill, and two cats, both adopted from a no-kill shelter. She is the author of the book, “Between Now and Then: A Common-Sense End-of-Life Planning Guide for Baby Boomers (and the rest of us),” published in 2013 after more than 12 years of effort. Although she is not a lawyer or financial planner, she compiled many of the things she learned from the experts into her reader-friendly book.
The book has generated an outpouring of rave reviews. For example, Stephen H. Frishberg, an estate tax attorney for almost 40 years, said, “I found Jeanne’s book a wonderful primer for one’s life. It is informative, entertaining and most of all, gently directs the reader to consider serious alternatives that we all need to address but are reluctant to do so. A worthwhile read.”
Barbara M. Christy, a retired professional librarian for the Library of Congress, has written, “As someone who has already had to face many landmarks and landscapes of aging, I look back and wish this book had been there to guide me.”
Hoff recently conducted a five-part series (based on the book chapters) at the William Jeanes Library in Lafayette Hill as well as book-signing/meet-the-author events at the Radnor Memorial Library, the Lower Providence Township Library and Harleysville Book Store. She also participated in the recent “Sandwich Generation Series” hosted at several Eastern Montgomery County synagogues.
“Unfortunately,” she confessed, “several events never happened because NO ONE (her emphasis) signed up. People tell me they don’t want to talk about end-of-life topics. I was recently told that I should use a bait-and-switch tactic to reel them in.”
Hoff is a writer with an associates’ degree from business school and many years of working with and learning from highly successful people in business, finance and the law. She has been a paralegal, business founder/owner/operator (Blue Gardenia Flowers), a cemetery sales counselor and an artist.
The name of this book came out of a conversation Hoff had years ago with a man who said that he wasn’t afraid of dying; he was afraid of what might happen between now and then. “In retrospect,” said Hoff, “I see that his words were to become the title of this book and one of the sources of my inquiry into the question, ‘What do you want to do with the rest of your life between now and then?’
“When I tell people I have written a book about end-of-life planning, I often get the same reaction: ‘Don’t you think that’s a pretty morbid subject?’ They are referring to the fact that end-of-life planning sounds like it is about funerals and death. Well, yes, end-of-life planning does include those things but also much more. It also includes important legal, financial, medical and personal decisions that some people would prefer to ignore indefinitely … until later, whenever that is.
“After people hear my perspective of the importance of planning, most people generally, even if reluctantly, agree that end-of-life planning makes perfect sense. It was an entirely new concept for them to consider. Baby Boomers, in particular, have an admirable, forever-young philosophy of life that has served them well up to now; however, if they continue to make the choice to ignore the various aspects of retirement and aging, there will be problems ahead. I want them to at least be prepared for the potential consequences of their choice to ignore end-of-life planning and do their best to make wise choices and avoid problems.”
Hoff’s book is divided into five major chapters: legal; financial; funeral and burial; record-keeping; and personal.
Each chapter addresses the question, “What do you plan to do with the rest of your life between now and then?”
The book is available online at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, eBay, BuyBooksOnTheWeb.com or from the author at firstname.lastname@example.org.
— To be continued