Estate planning and final arrangements are often topics put off until later in life, and it’s usually around middle age when people begin to consider their own mortality, that the discussion comes up.

Helping to spark the conversation and begin the process of pre-planning, Nina Guiglotto, a consultant with Lohman Funeral Homes co-hosted a free multi-purpose seminar last Wednesday at the Palm Coast Community Center, offering residents a chance to learn more about their options.

Partnering with Diane Vidal of Chiumento Law and Brent O’Quinn of the O’Quinn Insurance Agency, nearly two dozen attendees were able to gather information and have their questions answered by the professionals during the seminar.

It’s Never Too Early to Start

Talking with attendees one-on-one, Brent O’Quinn, who specializes in financial planning and insurance, was straightforward about the importance of being prepared.

“Insurance really is all about planning, So when you’re talking about whether it’s auto or home, you’re planning for your bad day. You’re planning for the claim, and how we can make it better before it ever happens,” he said.

O’Quinn Insurance team members Marina Strong, Brent O’Quinn and Jennifer Brown talk insurance and planning during the ‘Ducks In a Row’ seminar on Wednesday, August 11, 2021 at the Palm Coast Community Center. 

“When we’re doing life insurance, we’re planning for the bad day that you’re not going to be around for, but your family is,” said O’Quinn, reminding attendees that while you’re gone, your family will still be responsible for day-to-day life, while mourning your loss.

“A lot of times we get to see the bad part of when people don’t plan and there’s no money, and how do we replace the income. But when we do it right and plan properly, it’s terrible that your loved one passed away but they thought enough of you to plan. The money is not going to replace them but it does help you continue life.”

Who Speaks for You?

It’s an important question that unless you’ve filled out a living will or advanced directive, and designated someone with power of attorney or as an executor, who speaks for you in a medical situation or regarding your final arrangements can be tricky.

Discussing some of the key steps to putting the necessary elements in place, Diane Vidal said it starts with a conversation, with people you trust.

“It’s a very important decision to make and we should talk about it now, while we’re living and let them know about their duties, tell them where the original will is, talk about what their expectations are when they pass away because this personal representative that is appointed by the court, is going to have a lot of duties and responsibilities that they should live up to,” she said.

Chiumento Law attorney Diane Vidal shares the importance of designating a personal representative during the ‘Ducks In a Row’ seminar on Wednesday, August 11, 2021 at the Palm Coast Community Center.

“It’s a big deal and people need to know they’ve been selected to represent an estate, and (sometimes) they have no idea until after a person passes away,” said Vidal.  “These are important discussions that need to take place prior to a person passing away to ensure the probate process runs much smoother and that the personal representative’s job isn’t going to be so difficult than having no information at all.”

Vidal says it’s a conversation to have even as early as when selecting your children’s godparents.

“It’s an important discussion to have and should be considered an honor that you’re considered that important to somebody else’s life. You need to talk about it. It’s uncomfortable but any age, the sooner the better because we never know how we’re going to pass away.”

The Final Farewell

Bringing a lighthearted approach to what is typically a somber conversation, co-host Nina Guiglotto says everyone should take time to consider what they’d like to have as their final farewell.

Whether it’s closing out your life with a Viking ceremony – yes, she has a client who’s requested it, or something as simple as a vase and memorial space after cremation, Guiglotto says letting loved ones know what your final wishes are helps ensure family members aren’t left guessing or making financially challenging decisions during a highly emotional time.

“Especially right now, we see people are just passing away, and suddenly. Many families who live in Florida have children or other relatives who live out of state. It’s essential right now to have those plans in place so that when their loved ones have to come here from out of state, they know where to go, plus all the financials are taken care of. It can be a big financial expense on family members when a sudden death occurs,” she said.

Business expo exhibitors talk with attendees during the ‘Ducks In a Row’ seminar on Wednesday, August 11, 2021 at the Palm Coast Community Center.

The event paired a number of related industries with the seminar as a business expo, and before visiting the booths, attendee Patti Koller shared her extensive notes from the seminar presentations.

“I learned that my Colorado will may not be applicable here. I didn’t know about the named and insured. I’m single, so I don’t know if I need someone else on my title and my insurance if something happens, they can take care of my vehicle, sell it or whatever, so I have to find that out, the same with my camper,” said Koller.

“I knew about power of attorney but I don’t have one, so as I’m getting older, I probably need to do that, and get that in place. The long-term care insurance I was told Medicare takes care of that so I would like to investigate that a little more. Other than that, it’s inspiring. It’s stuff I know I need to get done. I just moved back to Florida from Colorado, I grew up in South Florida and I’m here now, so there are things I know need to be done and this was a good push to go get stuff done,” she said.

Presenters and their team members stayed busy talking with attendees after the seminar.

“We’re trying to help people get all their ducks in a row, plan all of their end of life questions, and get everything in order,” said Guiglotto.

Photo: Nina Guiglotto shares information about final wishes and planning at Lohman Funeral Homes, during the ‘Ducks In a Row’ seminar on Wednesday, August 11, 2021 at the Palm Coast Community Center. (Anderson/FNW)