Getting Your Legal House in Order

Course No. 5037
Professor Sally Hurme, JD
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Course No. 5037
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What Will You Learn?

  • Take charge of your legal and financial affairs as you plan ahead for yourself and your loved ones.
  • Learn what legal documents you need, what you can do without, and the best approach to cover yourself.
  • Get to know the language of financial and estate planning, including wills, trusts, and probate.
  • Empower yourself with a step-by-step blueprint for organizing your affairs and planning ahead.

Course Overview

The law impacts nearly every aspect of our lives, yet we seldom stop to reflect on the tools, documents, and procedures that allow our society to function. Property and contracts, insurance and credit, taxes and estate planning: These issues may be intimidating, but getting on top of your legal affairs is one of the best things you can do for yourself and your family. The good news is that a few simple concepts, a little organization, and some step-by-step planning can help you get your legal life into the best shape possible.

If you’re like many people, you may not have made the time to consider:

  • Do you need a will, trust, power of attorney, or other estate planning tools?
  • What kind of and how much insurance is a good investment?
  • How should we prepare our finances and health care for retirement?
  • What can we do to make end-of-life care and estate planning easy for our loved ones?

Tackling these issues doesn’t have to be a major chore. Getting Your Legal House in Order gives you a practical, accessible, and encouraging look at what you need to do to secure your finances, your home, your health care, and your future. Taught by author and elder law attorney Sally Balch Hurme, these 18 eye-opening lectures offer an enjoyable and immensely satisfying foray into your legal affairs.

As you will quickly learn, the language of legal and financial procedures can be confusing—codicils and probate, power of attorney and advance directives, annuities and Medigap insurance—but Sally Hurme offers clear explanations and a blueprint for you to follow. For instance, something as simple as a letter of instruction can take the burden off your family and spell out what your wishes are for your personal property.

There’s no substitute for having your own attorney, financial advisor, or accountant assessing your unique situation, but Getting Your Legal House in Order offers a captivating overview of personal legal issues, from identity theft to advance medical directives to renting out your house as an Airbnb. With practical tips for everyone, the course should be required viewing for anyone who wants to better understand the legal dimensions of the world we live in—and how to best plan for the future.

Unpacking Property Rights: What Can You Do with Your Stuff?

Whether you are thinking about buying your first home, weighing your options for retirement, or navigating the probate of a deceased loved one’s estate, financial and legal security often starts and ends with real property.

You may never have paused to ask: What even is a reverse mortgage, and why would you want one? Yet products such as reverse mortgages, timeshares, and even Airbnb rentals offer fascinating insight into the U.S. legal system and property rights.

You might be surprised to learn, for instance, that even though you may own your own home free and clear, you don’t fully own it in the way you own your other possessions. Zoning laws, easements, covenants, and even homeowners associations can restrict what you do with your property—and even how you sell it when you are ready to move.

Professor Hurme breaks down the issues of buying, owning, and selling property, making you a savvier consumer while helping you plan ahead. A few of the concepts these lectures explore include:

  • Understanding the ins and outs of leases;
  • When to invest (or not) in reverse mortgages, timeshares, and other popularly advertised opportunities;
  • Active 55+ communities, continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs), and other age-specific properties;
  • Issues of joint ownership or partial interests in property; and
  • How to calculate the full costs of a property.

Your data—which is your intellectual property—is one of your most valuable assets. So in addition to giving you a blueprint of the standard property issues you may talk through with your real estate agent or lawyer, Sally Hurme takes you into the secret world of hackers, scanners, and skimmers to help arm you against identity thieves. Knowing how they operate shows you how to protect yourself. Start with purchasing a good shredder, for instance.

Figuring Out Your Finances: From Insurance to Retirement

Our legal affairs are intertwined with our financial affairs, so Sally Hurme guides you through many of the common financial issues and options you will likely encounter throughout life. Take charge of your:

Credit and Debt: Explore the most common types of consumer debt, including credit cards, mortgages, and student loans. Find out how debt relates to your all-important credit score, and what you can do to chip away at debt you may have.

Insurance: How much do you need and how much is too much? Will your policy cover you if you need it? Get to know the language of claims and policies for annuities, life insurance (whole and term), and disability insurance.

Retirement Planning: Consider the best places to put your money and the optimal time to start making withdrawals. Financial vehicles such as 401(k)s, IRAs, SEPs, RMDs, and so on may seem complicated, but a few simple principles will help you retire in style. Also, don’t forget to reflect on issues of joint ownership and spousal benefits.

Medicare and Medicaid: These senior health insurance programs are a complex web of parts and payments. Delving into them is not for the faint of heart, but getting the right “coordination of benefits” may just save your life.

End-of-Life Issues—Such as Who Gets What Once You’re Gone

No one likes to think about his or her mortality, but planning ahead for your end-of-life health care, funeral arrangements, and estate designations is one of the best gifts you will ever give your loved ones. Even better, planning ahead does not require all that much work or know-how. Sally Hurme clearly walks you through a few of the major considerations for planning ahead, including:

  • An overview of wills, trusts, and probate;
  • Letters of instruction for your final wishes;
  • Powers of attorney for your health and finances;
  • Special issues of caregiving and guardianship; and
  • Advance medical directives.

All of these issues sound more daunting than they are in practice—as do all the issues you will learn about in Getting Your Legal House in Order. As with tidying your home, small actions create a snowball effect. Whether it’s creating an inventory of existing documents such as your birth certificate and insurance policies, outlining your retirement strategy, or drafting a basic will, the guidance you will find in this course is invaluable for your peace of mind today and your family’s future.

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18 lectures
 |  Average 31 minutes each
  • 1
    Get Your Legal Life Together Now!
    Begin your course with a survey of what makes up your legal house, from the ordinary day-to-day documents you already have to estate planning tools and considerations. You’ll quickly learn that “getting your legal house in order” is less daunting than it sounds—and it starts with an inventory you will take in this first lecture. x
  • 2
    Reducing Debt by Reading the Fine Print
    Too often, debt is easy to get into but hard to get out of, which is problematic because not only can debt limit your choices today, but it can also endanger the future for you and your loved ones. Here, you will review the major types of consumer debt, things you should consider before taking on debt, and the relationship between debt and your credit score. x
  • 3
    Protecting Yourself from Identity Theft
    Everyone is a potential target of identity thieves, and the best way to defend yourself is to understand how thieves operate. Whether it's a phony call from the IRS or someone rooting around in your trash for account numbers and passcodes, thieves can be wily. Learn several strategies for defending yourself and your data. x
  • 4
    Knowing Your Property Rights
    Property is central to American law, but as anyone who has run afoul of the local zoning board or a condominium's HOA understands, your name might be on the deed (or lease), but property restrictions are rampant. Explore the many rights, responsibilities, restrictions, and hassles of owning and renting property. x
  • 5
    Deciding Whether a Timeshare Is for You
    The marketing literature paints a lovely picture: an ownership stake in vacation property that will set your family up for years of getaways. Timeshares may be wildly popular, but an inside investigation of the costs shows they don’t always add up to a wise investment. Find out what you need to know before buying—or selling—a timeshare. x
  • 6
    Choosing the Insurance You Need
    Insurance is something you buy with the hope that you'll never have to use it. But if you ever do need it, you certainly want to make sure you are covered. Unpack some of the most common types of insurance and arm yourself with a newfound understanding of policies and coverage. x
  • 7
    Figuring Out Your Retirement Finances
    Making the leap from a regular paycheck in your working years to living off your savings in retirement can be scary, and planning ahead is the best way to take care of yourself. From 401(k)s and IRAs to annuities and defined-benefit pension plans, get to know the financial instruments that will take care of you in your golden years. x
  • 8
    Making the Most of Medicare and Medicaid
    No one has ever been accused of saying Medicare and Medicaid are easy to understand. Like the rest of the American health care system, Medicare and Medicaid are built around confusing concepts such as coverage, deductibles, coinsurance—and even “Medigap insurance.” Learn how to make the most of your medical insurance options in later life. x
  • 9
    Weighing the Benefits of Reverse Mortgages
    For some, a reverse mortgage can be a handy tool in retirement, providing a flow of steady cash backed by property you own. Here, you will find out what exactly a reverse mortgage is, how it works, who might want one, and why you might want to avoid them altogether. x
  • 10
    Comparing Retirement Communities
    Where do you want to live in retirement? From resort-like active 50+ communities to Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRCs), today's seniors have more choices than ever before. Survey the ins and outs of age-specific communities, the continuum of care, and what to watch for when planning your finances. x
  • 11
    Drafting Your Estate Plan
    A will is a central document in your estate plan, a way to distribute property that is not already designated by some other way. Reflect on what a will does, why you might or might not need one, and what happens to your property if you die without one. Also, begin thinking about what you should include in a will. x
  • 12
    Understanding and Using Trusts
    Although you’ve no doubt heard of a “trust,” there is a great deal of confusion and misinformation around the concept. Continue reflecting on your estate plan in this lecture that demystifies what a trust is, why you might need both a will and a trust, what you don’t want to put in a trust, and a few special reasons to set one up. x
  • 13
    Controlling Who Gets Your Property
    How you own what you own can make a big difference when it comes time to settle your estate. Consider the legal theory of property “interests”—or rights of ownership—and how you would like your property divided up. Things get complicated in a hurry when it comes to joint ownership, you’ll want to pay close attention if you have a partial interest in a piece of property. x
  • 14
    Separating Probate Facts from Fiction
    At its most basic, “probate” is a court-monitored procedure that determines the validity of a will, inventories assets, and settles claims on an estate. Think of the court as a referee to a game involving heirs, beneficiaries, creditors, executors, administrators, and other players. Get to know how to make probate as smooth and simple as possible for your family. x
  • 15
    Conveying Your Personal Wishes in Writing
    The process of dividing up property can lead to nasty disputes within a family. Fortunately, you can take two easy steps to head off potential family feuds: Write a letter of instruction for your final wishes and another letter for your personal belongings. From organ donation to the type of funeral you want, a letter can save a lot of heartache. x
  • 16
    Creating a Financial Power of Attorney
    A “power of attorney” is a simple document that gives written authorization to someone to represent you or act on your behalf. As you will learn in this lecture, every adult should have a power of attorney for matters of health and a second power of attorney for matters of finance. See why, and then explore the responsibility of being an agent. x
  • 17
    Caregiving by Contract or Court Order
    Much has been written about caregiving, but in this lecture, you will study two legal aspects of the caregiving relationship: the compensation contract for hiring a caregiver or paying a family member for services and the process of working through legal guardianship. Discover a few legal nuances and why they are important. x
  • 18
    Preparing Medical Advance Directives
    One of the kindest things you can do for your family is spare them the distress of having to face decisions about your health care without knowing your wishes. In this final lecture, delve into advanced care planning (including health care powers of attorney)—what treatments you want, and in what circumstances. As with all the tools you have studied, an advance directive is about peace of mind. x

Lecture Titles

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What's Included

What Does Each Format Include?

Video DVD
Instant Video Includes:
  • Ability to download 18 video lectures from your digital library
  • Downloadable PDF of the course guidebook
  • FREE video streaming of the course from our website and mobile apps
Video DVD
DVD Includes:
  • 18 lectures on 3 DVDs
  • Printed course guidebook
  • Downloadable PDF of the course guidebook
  • FREE video streaming of the course from our website and mobile apps
  • Closed captioning available

What Does The Course Guidebook Include?

Video DVD
Course Guidebook Details:
  • Printed course guidebook
  • Questions and Answers
  • Glossary

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Your professor

Sally Hurme

About Your Professor

Sally Hurme, JD
Sally Balch Hurme is an elder law expert and author who has led the national conversation on many of the legal issues of concern to older persons and their families. She received her B.A. in Political Science from Newcomb College of Tulane University and her J.D. from the American University Washington College of Law. Sally Hurme’s legal career spans public service, private practice, associations, and a wealth of...
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Reviews

Getting Your Legal House in Order is rated 5.0 out of 5 by 2.
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Very Comprehensive Overview of Legal Matters I had previously researched many of the topics covered in the lecture, but the course added many suggestions that I was not aware of or had forgotten. I would highly recommend the course to anyone, especially if they are not already familiar with the topics covered. The professor obviously could not give detailed legal advice on the subjects, which is understandable for this forum. However, you will have a great information to get started pulling your own legal documents together to make sure your affairs are handled according to your wishes if you become incapacitated or die.
Date published: 2020-01-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A very useful course I highly recommend this course. It offers very useful background on important legal issues that affect everyone, but especially senior people. The instructor is clear and matter-of-fact, never boring.
Date published: 2020-01-17
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