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Rhonda’s Rules: A Woman’s Guide to Getting Her Affairs in Order

June 4, 2013 | Categories: Star's Corner | 62 comments



 

RhondasRules Dedicated in loving memory to Rosaline “Rhonda” Ransom Lee, who was
tragically murdered May 26, 2013. Rhonda left three children, a loving
family and many friends to mourn her cherished memory.

 Estate planning is often an uncomfortable task to tackle, especially if you are leading a healthy, happy life. Tomorrow is not promised. Although this is something most of us would rather not face, all women should proactively engage in estate planning to protect their families and assets.

Estate planning, including planning for unexpected events, means proactively documenting your wishes and legal needs for your estate and your family. The peace of mind that comes from knowing your affairs are in order and your loved ones are protected and provided for is invaluable. While this type of planning can be emotionally charged, keeping a pragmatic perspective can help you plan responsibly.

Rhonda’s Rules is a checklist developed in response to the unexpected and tragic loss of a loving mother, sister, daughter and friend. Rhonda’s family was forced to navigate bureaucratic red tape to protect her three children, while dealing with their grief.

PERSONAL

Write a will (and update as your life and circumstances change).

Create Testamentary Trust for any minor children (if necessary).

Record information about your lawyer, accountant, financial planner or financial advisor, including his/her contact information.

Write a letter detailing what you want done with your personal possessions after your death. If you want a niece to have your engagement ring or your god-child to have your precious pet, put it in this letter. Give a copy of the letter to your lawyer and have it notarized if necessary.

Establish durable power of attorney to direct assets and investments.

Write a living will or a health-care proxy (medical power of attorney).

List all your pets, include their veterinarian names and vaccination history.

Specify who should have access to private/personal information (computers, passwords, finances, etc.).

List all irreplaceable items that are locked up (either in your home or in a safety deposit box) including jewelry, heirlooms and documents such as marriage license, birth certificates, passports, stocks, bonds and death certificates. Make a photocopy of those documents for your household files and consider taking pictures of the jewelry or other items.

List of login and passwords. (Don’t put this information in your will, which becomes public information. Put in a separate letter.) Be sure to include:

Personal website login information

Social Media (i.e., Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Tumblr, etc.)

Email (i.e., Gmail, Yahoo Mail, Hotmail, AOL, etc.)

Websites (i.e., NAPW, LinkedIn, Ebay, Amazon, PayPal, Netflix, etc.)

Devices: tablets, iPods, phones, desktops, laptops

Find a safe and easily accessible place for your important documents.

Identify and document the location of home desks, hidden cabinets and drawers, home safe with combination or locks and any other non-obvious document storage locations. Include name, address and keys for storage lockers.

Take a physical inventory of items worth $100 or more.

Other important information:

List all dates and places of birth for yourself and all minor children

Relative’s names and contact information

Employers with dates of employment and employee ID if applicable

All property, mortgage information, utilities with names of companies, account numbers with schedules of payments

Recent tax returns

Label your keys for your car(s), office, house, vacation home, boat, etc.:

Name and contact information for the building superintendent or community manager

A list of all regular deliveries such as newspapers, milk and all regular service providers such as lawn services, waste pickup and snow removal.

Discuss plans for death with your heirs and/or close family/friends to prevent disputes and let them know your expectations.

If you wish to be buried, buy a burial plot or secure a mausoleum.

Plan your funeral/memorial service.

Send any lists and or wills to the estate administrator (dated and signed), give one to your spouse/family member and keep one for your records.

FINANCIAL

Review your life insurance policy and make sure it will cover all of your funeral expenses, and any additional insurance you might wish to carry.

Create a list of life insurance, annuities, disability insurance, including issuer, policy number, broker and contact information.

Take inventory of non-physical assets (saving’s accounts, gift cards, store credits, secret stash of cash) and create a map or outline of where your money is kept, saved, held or deposited.

Outline entitlements predicated by your death (brokerage accounts, 401k, pensions, IRA assets, trusts, bank accounts, life insurance policies, long term care policies, home owner/auto/disabilit/health policies).

Make a list of open credit cards/debts/ auto loans/ home equity lines of credit (do this by running a free credit report online):

Contact your credit card company(s) to create “Authorized Account Managers” who are empowered to handle basic maintenance on your credit card account

Make a list of organizations that you belong to (NAPW, AHA, AARP, Sorority, College Alumni, etc.) or that you support, as many organizations have accidental life insurance benefits.

Review/update beneficiary for all your accounts/policies at least every two years.

Review/update beneficiary for all your accounts/policies whenever a major life event occurs (marriage, divorce, death or birth).

Investigate whether accounts can be set up to “transfer upon death” to avoid probate issues (avoid costs being taken out of estate).

Meet with an attorney or financial advisor to set up the appropriate trusts in the name of beneficiaries to allow for less of the estate to be taxed or distributed by the court.

PROFESSIONAL

Think about all of your job responsibilities and determine what you could do to help your boss and co-workers fulfill these responsibilities if you were to suddenly and unexpectedly leave your job.

Document policy/procedures of key workflow or key employees.

If you own your business, meet with a lawyer and have a document drawn up that explicitly says what will happen to your company if you are no longer capable of running it.

Develop a business continuity plan to mitigate the risk caused by sudden death, natural disaster or act of terrorism.

CHILDREN

Appoint a Custodial Guardian for the child’s “person” and for their “property” for any minor children to avoid court appointed guardians.

If you are single and you don’t want the child’s other biological parent to be the custodial guardian, you must document why the they are unfit or abusive and thus not a desirable guardian.

Create a list of people (in order) you want as the Custodial Guardian in case your first choice is not available or deemed inappropriate by the court.

Create a list of your child(ren)’s doctors and health care providers:

Pediatrician

Dentist

Orthodontist

Dermatologist

Therapist

Create list of your child(ren)’s medication, dosage and medical conditions.

Write a letter detailing any special circumstances that you would want your child(ren) to know in your absence:

Birth (i.e., adoption, IVF, donor egg, donor sperm, surrogacy)

Genetic tendencies

History of mental health/illness, heart disease, cancer in family

Family Tree/History

 

Disclaimer: This list is not exhaustive. Please consult the appropriate professionals for advice pertaining to your specific needs.

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Comments

  1. Monica Velasquez says: June 8, 2013

    Thank you for putting this information together!!! Sorry for your lost and I hope that Rhonda´s death doesn´t go unpunished

  2. Cynthia Yildirim says: June 9, 2013

    With the recent tornadoes in Oklahoma, many Oklahoma residents would be wise to follow this advise. I personally am included. This article motivated me to start making the appropriate check list. I would hate that after my death, I would be causing more greif for my family by not helping them to know and keep my last earthly wishes.

  3. health says: June 10, 2013

    Do you mind if I quote a couple of your articles as
    long as I provide credit and sources back to your weblog?
    My blog is in the very same niche as yours and my visitors would definitely benefit
    from some of the information you provide here. Please let me know if this alright with you.
    Thanks a lot!

  4. don w.greathouse says: June 11, 2013

    Rhonda’s Rules are a fabulous necessary testimony to inform not only women but ; ALL .
    THANKS STAR JONES .One of your biggest contributions to date .

  5. glynis says: June 11, 2013

    thanks Wendy

  6. Rosemary says: June 11, 2013

    Dear Star Jones: Thank you ever so much for this list! Now I have direction and will be comfortable knowing that YOU have covered all of the bases for me. Thank you.

  7. Elizette Bowers says: June 11, 2013

    Very saddened about the events that lead to this informational post. May God and this young ladies family watch over protect love and cherish the three wonderful children who’s lives will never be the same. May God cover, embrace and begin to heal the entire family living with the loss and tragedy. Thank you for sharing a wealth of information that all Mother’s NEED. I hope the person who committed this crime is found and brought to justice.

  8. Brenda G says: June 11, 2013

    I just heard Star talk about Rhonda’s Rules on Wendy Williams and had to share them with my friends. Not only is this something for me to do, but all of my loved ones.
    May God comfort Rhonda’s family.
    Thanks Star!

  9. Beverly says: June 11, 2013

    Thank You Star Jones!
    Sorry for your loss.
    God Bless the children

  10. Jeanne says: June 11, 2013

    Thanks Star Jones for your kindness of awareness that importance of all information that we need to know for our immediate family. I love watching the Wendy Williams Show she honest, direct with her information before she talks about it on national televisions. Star Jones every mother, grandmother, sister, auntie should start this today. Amen!

  11. Leslie Smith says: June 11, 2013

    I saw Star on The Wendy Show 2day, and I wanted to check out the information provided. I am so sorry about your loss. I admire you for dedicating a positive resource to your friend. Thank you.

  12. SaCh'e Events and Design, LLC says: June 11, 2013

    Thank you for sharing.

  13. Sue J. Chen says: June 12, 2013

    I’m so sorry for your loss. May God comfort everyone affected by this great loss.
    Thanks so very much for you putting this information together and sharing. God bless you!

  14. Sandra says: June 12, 2013

    This is Some Great Info; I saw it today on the Wendy Williams Show..thanks So much!!
    My condolences to the Family!!!

  15. Cassie Mires says: June 12, 2013

    Can this list be provided in downloadable form please? Pdf, Word, etc.It would be a great tool to photocopy and supply to others as well.

    • Olisa Adger says: June 12, 2013

      Thanks for your comment. There is no downloadable version available at this time, but we recommend that you print it from your browser.

  16. Cassie Mires says: June 12, 2013

    And thank you so much for this. My prayers are with the family and friends of Ms. Ransom Lee.

  17. Tee says: June 12, 2013

    This information is so helpful and timely for me. I am married with two minor children (under two) and worry if I’ll
    Be around as they mature into self sufficient adults and do not want what I saved for them not to
    Be used for them.

    My heart goes out to the family and the babies left motherless. I send my prayers.

  18. Pam says: June 12, 2013

    Thanks Star for this very informative information!! I will pass this on to all family and friends.

  19. Brenda Pinchback says: June 12, 2013

    I saw you on the Wendy Williams Show, you both were great. I heard what you said and decided to look up “Rhonda Rules”. My deceased husband passed away suddenly and he had nothing in place. But very soon after his death, I got a living trust. Now I have to do the other things you mentioned.
    Th anks for the info. I will pass it on to daughter, family and friends.

  20. Louise says: June 12, 2013

    Thank you very much for putting this information together. I’m printing it out and getting it done. Again, thank you Starr Jones. (Just saw you on Wendy Williams)

  21. Sherry says: June 12, 2013

    After struggling with a lengthy illness, I was asked by my best friend and medical power of attorney (same person) to do something like this It felt love like a daunting, overwhelming, somewhat morbid task. Now knowing your friend’s family’ s story and Rhonda’s Rules, it doesn’t feel so overwhelming anymore! You have listed EXACTLY what’s necessary and I no longer scratch my head wondering what to do first! Thank you for getting an important dialogue started and an even more important task started!!

  22. AUNDREA PARKER says: June 12, 2013

    THANKS SO MUCH STAR FOR THE INFORMATION. MAY GOD BLESS HER AND HER FAMILY. AND MAY GOD BLESS YOU.

  23. sandra schwartz says: June 12, 2013

    Thank you to both Star Jones & Wendy Williams for this information & condolances to Star Jones on the loss of her friend.

  24. Barbara White says: June 12, 2013

    Thank you for sharing this vital information. Sorry for the unforunately death of your loved one. This is a reminder that tomorrow is promised to no one. Blessings.

  25. Yejide Van Petten says: June 12, 2013

    The loss of this young woman is so sad for her children and family. I express my sincerest condolences. May God contiue to be with them always. Thank you for posting this information because it is very imperative to have everything in order as we never know when it will be our time. Thank you Ms. Star Jones and Wendy Williams for passing the information along.

  26. Janet Green says: June 12, 2013

    First, my condolences to the family for their loss.
    Great advice and thanks Ms, Jones for considering us. As single, parent myself I have already made a will be updating with additional information.

    Stay blessed.

  27. CEE says: June 13, 2013

    A MILLION THANKS TO STAR JONES FOR SHARING THIS VERY IMPORTANT INFO. NO ONE KNOWS WHEN THE TRUMPET WILL SOUND BUT ALL WE CAN DO IS PREPARE, SO THAT OUR LOVED ONES ARE NOT BURDENED. MY HEARTFELT CONDOLENCES TO THE BEREAVED.

  28. Cynthia Merritt says: June 13, 2013

    Thank you for this information and guidance. I am so sorry for your loss and you are truly “Paying it forward!”

  29. CHAD says: June 13, 2013

    My Prayers are with you and your beloved friends. I know Rhonda’s family is so GRATEFUL to have such a loving and caring friend as you. Thanks to You and Wendy Williams for getting this very important info to all of us (Rhonda’s Rules).

  30. D'Andrea Aytes says: June 13, 2013

    Thank you Ms. Jones for bringing the spotlight to the many missing black women that seem to be forgotten. Also thank you for providing information on the things we need to relay to our loved ones in the case of emergencies. May God continue to bless your endeavors, and my condolences to the family for their loss.

  31. Geronimo says: June 13, 2013

    WHY did the father of her YOUNGEST child INSIST that they meet at such a conspicuious time in the morning? Was it because he knew FEW witnesses would be out? I would think he would be the PRIME suspect. She knew him, and didn’t fear him, so she met with him, NOT ever suspecting what he had planned. What if anything did she tell her sister of that meeting. Did the police ever compare the voice on that cell phone to the voice of the father of her youngest? Atleast then, if it was the SAME voice, WALLA! Just my theory of course, and I hope that Star Jones is the catalyst in solving this case.

  32. Simona says: June 13, 2013

    Thank you Star Jones. I just watched you on the view.

  33. Perika Peabody says: June 13, 2013

    You and your family are in my prayers. Thanks for this information.

  34. Telesha says: June 13, 2013

    This movement is the start of lost hope found and awareness to such a large audience. God bless and thank you. Mother of two girls.

  35. Karin says: June 13, 2013

    Star,

    could you make this a form that can printed out?

  36. Renee Walker says: June 13, 2013

    Thanks Star…
    … for taking time out from your many responsibilities to reach back and embrace the Ransom-Lee family during this difficult time. I am confident that your efforts will increase the probability of a fair outcome for especially those precious children who have lost their irreplacable Mother. I hope efforts are underway to establish educational trust funds for Rhonda’s children so that this tragedy’s affect on their life chances is limited. My condolences to the family and all those who love them.
    Renee

  37. Sue says: June 13, 2013

    I am living this very nightmare, my sister was murdered over a year ago and I live in legal limbo. We still have no access to money and trying to raise 2 children. This is what I will dedicate my life too. Everybody needs a will or the government takes everything. I would,love to talk with you about this and how we can make sure people realize how important this is. Thank you .

  38. Margie says: June 14, 2013

    So sorry about the loss of your friend. Praying that God will lift the family’s spirit and encourage their hearts. This information is what we need. I’ve put it off long enough. Will get to taking care of my business asap. Saw you on Wendy. How you doin?

  39. P says: June 15, 2013

    Thank you for your focus in what is was a difficult time for you. I think we have all taken out mortality for granted. In recognizing our inability to control EVERYTHING in our lives; this is certainly one way to help insure an organized situation should anything unexpected happen. The people left behind will surely appreciate it. Thank you for shining your light.

  40. Debra says: June 15, 2013

    I greatly appreciate this information, thank you Star.

  41. Maurissa says: June 18, 2013

    Thanks Star for this vital information. It is seemingly feasible.
    My condolences goes out to Ms. Ransom Lee’s family and friends. May God bless you

  42. Terri Thompson says: June 20, 2013

    FIRST OFF, SORRY FOR YOUR LOSS AND CONDOLENSES TO THE FAMILY. SECONDLY, I CAN NOT THANK YOU ENOUGH FOR THIS INVALUABLE INFORMATION THAT YOU HAVE SHARED WITH US ALL. I AM TRULY OVERWHELMED AND TOUCHED BY YOUR NEED TO EDUCATE AND PREPARE US WOMEN(MEN TOO) FOR WHAT COULD BE AN UNEXPECTED LIFE CHANGING EXPERIENCE. I AM A SINGLE MOTHER OF A SON WHOM I AM PUTTING THROUGH SCHOOL AND GOING THROUGH A DIVORCE AT THE SAME TIME. MY SON IS A SENIOR AT TUSKEGEE UNIVERSITY AND I AM A REGISTERED NURSE WORKING ON MY SECOND DEGREE AND ENTERING THE WORLD OF LEGAL NURSE CONSULTING. I FILL COMFORT IN KNOWING THAT IF ANYTHING SHOULD HAPPEN TO ME, MY SON WILL BE WELL PREPARED AND EQUIPPED WITH ALL THE INFORMATION THAT HE NEEDS TO CONTINUE TO ACHIEVE HIS GOALS IN LIFE WITHOUT HAVING TO WORRY ABOUT ANYTHING. I WILL BE SHARING THIS INFORMATION WITH EVERYONE I KNOW. THANKS AGAIN, I WILL FOREVER BE GRATEFUL TO YOU. MAY GOD CONTINUE TO BLESS YOU IN EVERY WAY POSSIBLE. LASTLY, SHOUTS OUT TO WENDY WILLIAMS FOR ALLOWING YOU TO USE HER PLATEFORM TO GET THIS INFORMATION OUT ON A GLOBAL LEVEL. THANKS AGAIN!

  43. SHAREE says: June 21, 2013

    R.I.P RHONDA. Prayers for the family. Thanks for the information.

  44. Barbara Rubel says: June 21, 2013

    “Rhonda’s Rules” remind us how important it is for all women to get their affairs in order. Although Rhonda was murdered and is no longer physically present, she is spiritually connected to all women as her death brings awareness of the significance of estate planning. Her death sheds light on the problem of homicide across the United States and the grief experienced after unexpected and tragic loss. As a bereavement counselor, I realize all too often how lives change because of homicide. Star Jones reminds us that we can find meaning in loss and remain spiritually connected to those who have died. Thank you Star for your wisdom and your spark.

  45. larry says: June 22, 2013

    my thoughts and prayers are with the kids and the family i am a local dj in pontiac and i do a lot of nonprofit get togethers so if you lady,s ever need a dj just email me id be glad to volunteer my time

  46. Teresa says: June 22, 2013

    Thank you Star Jones and Thank GOD for you having a platform to share this information with the world, for many would NOT have a clue of where to go and what to do if the inevitable happens. It sometimes comes down to religion (I don’t think my single daughter thinks I would let her son continue in his religion which is not the same as mine). for that I don’t think she had considered me who is very hands-on with him now. I constantly help with babysitting. I lost a brother to cancer in 1993 and my family has not even seen his two small children since the funeral. I know the grief well. So my family actually lost more than my brother then. Thank you , Wendy Williams, The View staff and the broadcasts for giving you this time to share with us for I would not have known about the tragedy or all these loose ends to be tied up while time still permits. Such a blessing.

  47. Christine says: June 26, 2013

    Thanks for this! My husband & I were discussing this most recently, and as we discussed the more obvious areas, finances, guardian for the kids, many of the things on this checklist didn’t really dawn on us. This is a great tool for parents, especially with young babies that will need support if anything (bad) should happen.

  48. Ronda Davis says: July 3, 2013

    Star thank you so much for this valuable information. Thanks also to the family and I will continue to pray for God to comfort you all. I am so very sorry for the loss of Rhonda. We have such a long way to go to end domestic violence and the injustices against women and children. I will be sure to share this information with as many as possible.

    Thanks again,

    Ronda

  49. Margaret says: July 3, 2013

    I was very sick in 2007, and did a lot of things that are stated on this list. It is a MUST for women to have. I keep it in a separate place and gave a copy to my daughter just in case the time comes when she would need it. I believe the list is also appropriate for divorces or any kind of separation for that matter.

  50. Renee Walker says: July 4, 2013

    Star,
    How wonderful to read that an arrest has been made in this case. Good for you for reaching out for support so that the truth could be heard and acted upon in this case. You are an example of what it means to empower others to do the right thing and I applaud you.

  51. Gabrielle Oliver says: July 20, 2013

    I’m very sorry for the loss of Rhonda and my prayers to out to get family and children. I can’t even imagine the pain they are going through. Thank you for putting this information up. Many Blessings for all

  52. Gabrielle Oliver says: July 20, 2013

    I’m very sorry for the loss of Rhonda and my prayers to out to her family and children. I can’t even imagine the pain they are going through. Thank you for putting this information up. Many Blessings for all

  53. charlotte davenport says: July 20, 2013

    star great job as usually so sorry for such a beautiful flower gone and her seeds left to bloom alone may god bless u and your friends for stepping where many wont may there be justice severed on her offender and he be caught very soon the zimmerman case was such a dissappointment to our black heritage that i wouldnt want a repeat so soon being a single black female with what i call my miniature adult due the ages i dont have much but your list i have already start securing what i do cudos to you

  54. charlotte davenport says: July 20, 2013

    correction adult kids age 29 and 26

  55. rich manson says: July 21, 2013

    How about if you put “Rhonda’s Rules” in a more printer friendly format. Some of us aren’t real bright with the tech stuff. Great ideas. But if you try to print it off it will print all the comments too.Maybe I’m missing something but it might help getting the list out. Thanks

    • Olisa Adger says: July 24, 2013

      Hello Rich,

      Thanks for your comment. Unfortunately, we don’t have a print version of “Rhonda’s Rules” just yet. What you can do is copy and paste it into a Word (or similar) document and print only the checklist. Hope this helps!

  56. CORAL says: July 23, 2013

    I LIVE IN THE BAHAMAS, I WATCHED AND EPISODE OF YOU ON THE WENDY WILLIAMS SHOW, THAT IS HOW I KNOW ABOUT THIS, SORRY FOR YOUR LOSS. SOME OF THE THINGS LISTED DO NOT APPLY IN MY COUNTRY ,BUT IT SURE IS AN EYE OPENER FOR ME BECAUSE SOME OF THEM DO APPLY. THANK YOU SO MUCH, KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK.

  57. MARY says: July 30, 2013

    Hello Ms. Jones-yes, I actually saw you on an episode of the Wendy Williams show as well. Sorry for the loss of your friend and sympathies to her family and much caring, love and support to her three children left behind. About three years ago, I actually wrote a will myself and I took it to a local bank here in New York City and when I was seen by their bank notary, he read the will and said because it was a real estate property I needed to have a New York Real Estate Attorney handle my will. I became discouraged upon hearing this. After researching around, I called several real estate attorney here in New York City and was quoted a price for which I could not afford. Legal Aid centers here in New York City as far as I am to understand, do not assist people with wills. The good news is that when I saw the Legal Aid attorney, he said that he would send me a website for blank New York State Wills. He did just that, but unfortunately the will stated that you need to seek legal representation from an attorney and not proceed on one’s own. Again, the problem of money and the price is something not being employed is out of my financial reach-so what does one do ?? Thank you for my entry and your time.
    Email: loveandhappines@yahoo.com

  58. Tanesha Poyser says: August 30, 2013

    Wow! this is amazing, thank you. I always had my “just in case file” but up until now I didn’t realize how much information was missing. So sorry about the loss of your friend, her children are in my prayers. God bless.

  59. Rebecca Edwards says: November 13, 2014

    I just watch the story of rhonda on motives and murders.First I would like to send my condolences to the family and friends. I also live in Michigan ( Kalamazoo Michigan) so this hits pretty close to home. I have a ex- husband who sends me all kinds of threating messages knows what I’m doing where I live its scary. So seeing Rhonda’s story jus made me realize I need to get my rules in order.. So thank you for sharing your heartbreaking story about rhonda she was a beautiful woman sorry for your loss and pain…. Sincerely Rebecca Edwards

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