JULY 2011
Khaas Baat : A Publication for Indian Americans in Florida

Guest Column



I walked down early this morning, made a cup of tea and opened my computer as usual in an attempt to finish all my e-mail correspondence as soon as possible. As I opened my e-mail, the first e-mail was from a special friend from London that was full of beautiful verses emphasizing the importance of peace in our lives. It felt good.

As I went through the verses, I was holding the cup of tea in my hand. I took a moment and asked, “How heavy is this cup of tea?" . . . 20g to 500g. Does it matter? It depends on how long I try to hold it. If I hold it for a minute, that's not a problem. If I hold it for an hour, I'll have an ache in my right arm. If I hold it for a day, I’ll have to call an ambulance. In each case, it's the same weight, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it becomes. It has been such a stressful week . . . for a while now . . . After being anxious for weeks, I realized that if I carry my burdens all the time, sooner or later, as the burden becomes increasingly heavy, I won't be able to carry on. Better late than never! As with the cup of tea, I have to put it down for a while and rest before holding it again. When I’m refreshed, I can carry on with the burden.

So, before you return home tonight, put the burden of work down for a moment. Don't carry it home. You can pick it up tomorrow.

Here are a few great ways of dealing with the burdens of life: (beautiful thoughts I compiled from all over the place that seemed worth sharing).

As I was leaving the office yesterday, one of my employees advised me to make sure I spend at least 30 minutes undivided with the kids for dinner. And we did it!

Life has imperfections and as we travel more distance, we learn to acknowledge life’s imperfections. I have been so occupied with work and have not been able to go out with my girlfriends for a while. A little disappointed but then I received a text from one of my friend “Hi here if u need 2 tlk.” Thankful . . .

Not been able to spend time with mom, dad, cousins, etc. Received a cute picture of my nephew . . . thankful family is around.

The house is messy when I walk in the door. So thankful that I have a home . . .

I forgot the laundry in the washer. So turned it on and that’s it . . .

Did not eat the healthiest food today . . . will try tomorrow.
From Buddhist teachings: “We need to appreciate this moment without attachment to our past or to our future through quieting the mind. This includes an appreciation and understanding, an acceptance, of the imperfections of life. To wish that things were different is to cause suffering in our life.”

I think it's not so much an acceptance of imperfection in the present moment as an acknowledgment of imperfection in the present moment, which is different in a subtle way. Things are what they are in the present moment. This does not prevent us from a constructive motivation to try to improve our own lives.

Namrata Amin is a life coach and mother of two residing in Lutz.

Guest Column


By Meenakshi A. Hirani

The minute one hears the terms “Advanced Directives” and “Estate Planning,” the immediate normal reaction is, I am not old to have advanced directives and I don’t have millions to be worrying about doing an estate planning. Let me dispel your perception – no matter what age and of net worth one is, everyone who is above the age of 18 must have their affairs in order. Advance directives and estate planning documents consist of Living Will, appointment of Health Care Surrogate, Durable Power of Attorney, Declaration of Pre-Need guardian, Wills and Trusts.

Our memory is still fresh with Terri Schiavo legal battle between the guardian and the parents from 1998 to 2005. A Living Will is a document that expresses a person’s intention to their family members as to what type of treatment or withholding of a treatment to be followed when a person is in a persistent vegetative state and is not able to communicate his or wishes. It says “what happens to my body while I am alive?” This document takes the emotional pain out of family’s decision making.

Designation of Health Care Surrogate, a power of attorney for medical affairs, names a person of your choice and who you trust to make health care decisions on your behalf and consent to medical treatment. With strict HIPPA regulations, it is crucial to have this document in place.

Durable Power of Attorney is a document that designates a person, who is authorized to make financial decisions on your behalf when you are away or mentally incapable of making any decision in case of dementia, Alzheimer’s, or in a coma. Having this document eliminates the need of expensive guardianship proceedings. Most of us have IRAs and 401(k) plans. Only the holder is authorized to deal with these plans. Spouse or beneficiaries are only entitled to receive the funds when the holder of the plan dies. They are not permitted to handle these plans. Therefore, if anything were to happen to the holder during his or her life and cannot give directions, the family members cannot access these funds during the incapacity of the holder.

The Will is a document that details what happens to one’s property after his or death. Upon a person’s death, the property in that individual’s name does not go automatically to the family or the loved ones, but has to go through the court process known as Probate. If there is no Will, the property passes to people as per the state statute and not what the person would have wanted. Therefore, it becomes important to have a Will for proper distributions of your assets to people you want to be taken care of after your death.

Creating various trusts avoids time-consuming and costly process of probate, and affords a smooth transition of assets from you to your beneficiary without making your affairs public. Also, trusts are a vehicle for managing your affairs to minimize implications of Estate Taxes. Present-day tech savvy people would be tempted to draw these documents themselves by going online and downloading standard forms. It is always advisable to get the help of attorneys in the area as they keep up with the changing laws and know how best to protect your interest. For instance, if the Power of Attorney does not contain a necessary power, the attorney-in-fact may not be able to qualify you for Medicaid by diverting your income in a trust. Again, it is never too late or too early to put your affairs in order and have piece of mind for your family and for yourself.

Meenakshi A. Hirani, past vice president of the Orlando Chapter for the South Asian Bar Association of Florida, is an attorney in Orlando area, and concentrates her practice in Business law, Real Estate, Probate, Guardianship and Estate Planning. She can be reached at (407) 599-7199 or e-mail [email protected].

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