Meet and Greets at Tutor and Spunky’s Deli – May 22 and June 27 2019

Estate planning for seniors – Get it done

      On Life and Love after 50 eNewsletter – July 26, 2019

Tom P Blake columnist

                             Estate Planning for seniors – Get it done

A couple of items inspired today’s eNewsletter. First item was an email from Champ Mark, whom, as you may recall, asked if Greta and I would try to locate the graves where his parents are buried in American Samoa, when Greta and I were on our 82-day trip last November (we found and sent pictures of the burial sites).

Mark suggested I write about estate planning. He said, “Maybe it’s because so many in my age group have been ill, injured, or died, in the past few years. It seems like the question, ‘Do you have a will?’ comes up a lot these days.

“To my surprise, the most frequent answer is ‘No.’ I then offer about 30 seconds of amateur knowledge about the benefits of having a will, trust, power of attorney and advanced medical directive.

“No doubt you are aware this is important among seniors, who ‘don’t want to burden their children,’ but do just that when they die without a plan. Not to mention when they become ill without an advanced medical directive.”

The second item that inspired today’s eNewsletter was a brief article in the July/August 2019 AARP Bulletin, titled, “Free Fallin’.” The subhead read: “Tom Petty’s Wife and Daughters battle Over His Estate.” (For those who don’t understand the title, Free Fallin’ was the name of one of Tom Petty’s better songs.)

Photo courtesy of AARP Bulletin

The article stated that Petty’s widow is in court battling with his daughters from a previous marriage over Petty’s estate. The article added, “Petty’s case should serve as a warning, says Eric Martin, an estate lawyer and author…

“He (Martin) lists three rules for those over 50. Have your affairs in order, no matter your health. Select an executor of your will, an agent with power of attorney and a trustee—and record the choices. And be certain to choose beneficiaries.”

My estate planning attorney is Jeffrey Hartman San Clemente, California. I asked Jeffrey if he would share estate planning words of wisdom for our Champs; Jeffrey wrote: “A qualified estate planning attorney can assist you with the following:

  1. Planning for a potential period of incapacity, and the need to have another person manage your finances and make health care decisions on your behalf.  A Financial Durable Power of Attorney and an Advance Health Care Directive are important documents that allow your designated Agent to act for you while you are incapacitated.
  2. Planning for the transfer of your assets to your intended beneficiaries at your death, and, avoiding the probate court process.  With a Will, you designate your beneficiaries who will receive distributions from your estate, and your Executor who manages the estate and makes the distributions.  However, if your estate is over $150,000, your Will has to be administered in probate court.
  3. With a Living Trust, you can also designate your beneficiaries who will receive distributions from your Trust, and your Trustee who manages the Trust and makes the distributions, but without the need for Probate (saving extra time, hassle and money).  A Living Trust also allows your Trustee to manage your assets in the Trust if you become incapacitated, without the need for a Conservatorship.
  4. Planning to minimize or eliminate estate taxes, income taxes and property taxes.

“The different approaches to estate planning have various legal and tax consequences which should be carefully analyzed by a qualified professional.”

If you would like to contact Jeffrey, he can be reached at 949 429-2578; or his website:

Ask him for a blank ESTATE PLANNING QUESTIONNAIRE; I’ll bet he’ll email you one.

On August 30, 2017, I wrote an eNewsletter titled, “The importance of estate planning for seniors—get your estate plan in order.” The article shared the stories of two of our women Champs, both of whom married 50th reunion high school friends. Both became widowed after short periods of time.

One’s husband had an estate plan that helped her financially.

The other woman married very quickly in California, before an estate plan had been completed. After her husband died, she didn’t think she was going to inherit anything. I mentioned her situation to Jeffrey Hartmann, who advised me to tell her that she was entitled, under California law, to some assets, even though she wasn’t included in her husband’s Estate or will.

Inspired by Jeffery’s comment, she pursued it. Her effort took two years, but she received a nice sum of money.

To read that August 30th eNewsletter:—-get-your-senior-estate-plan-in-order.

One other Estate planning item: If your legal ducks are in order, think of how much easier your executor’s or trustee’s jobs will be. Don’t put the burden to straighten things out on their shoulders, that’s selfish. Take care of it beforehand; that’s the best inheritance gift you can give. Often the executors and trustees are family members.

Bottom line: If you meet someone this weekend, and decide to elope to Las Vegas, get the Estate Plan taken care of on Monday or Tuesday, if you’re still married. I guess we all should be so lucky, eh?

Part 2 – In February of this year, I did an interview on a local Orange County TV Channel Show called Good Day Orange County. I didn’t realize they posted the interview on You Tube until this week. If you’d like to be bored for 13 minutes, here is the link to me dispensing advice to seniors. Tom Blake video Good Day Orange County link is below:

Tom Interview on Good Day Orange County

Pavarotti movie- A warm and refreshing senior movie date

     On Life and Love after 50 eNewsletter – July 19, 2019

by Columnist Tom Blake

Pavarotti movie – A warm and refreshing senior movie date 

On Wednesday, Greta, my life partner of 21 years,  asked me to go to a late-afternoon movie with her. She loves movies; I tolerate them. But when a great one comes along, I usually thoroughly enjoy it.

“What movie?” I asked.

“Pavarotti,” she replied.

“Sounds like opera to me.” I rather non-enthusiastically replied, in that opera isn’t my favorite type of music.

However, I didn’t want her to go alone so I agreed to go. The Wednesday matinee at that theater costs just $6.50 for seniors, which made the outing a little more palatable.

And guess what? As often happens with movies, I loved it. Producer Ron Howard created a masterpiece. It’s a documentary, not a film with a plot or story line. In scenes featuring Pavarotti, the footage and music are authentic Pavarotti himself. There isn’t a stand-in actor pretending to be he.

His enthusiasm for life shines through.

I related to the movie for three personal reasons.

There is a scene where Pavarotti, an Italian, joins for the first time, the other two great tenors of his era—Spaniards Placido Domingo and Jose Carreras—where they officially became known as The Three Tenors, at a concert in Rome at The Baths of Caracalla on July 7, 1990. The record album from that concert became the best-selling classical music album of all times.

Domingo, Carreras, Pavarotti (Photo courtesy of Decca records)

The concert was on the eve of the 1990 FIFA World Cup of Soccer Final, which is how Pavarotti convinced the other two tenors to join him. They were all avid soccer fans.

Why did this Three Tenors scene from 1990 in the movie appeal to me personally? Because, 30 years earlier, on August 24, 1960, while traveling through Europe for 85 days in a VW bus with four other guys, we attended the opera Aida at The Baths of Caracalla.

The opera that night lasted for three and a half hours, so long that the USA satellite “Echo” was visible in the sky as it flew over twice. I also recall four-horse chariots, camels and elephants on the enormous stage.

At the movie on Wednesday, a woman seated behind us was so inspired by the Three Tenors’ performance at The Baths of Caracalla, she stood up and applauded.

The second personal reason I enjoyed the movie is also related to the Three Tenors. Recently, I’ve been sorting through old picture books while working on my family’s genealogy. A few days ago, I came upon a concert ticket stub from a Three Tenors concert in San Jose, California, dated December 29, 1999.

I found out my sister, Christine, and her boyfriend at the time, Bill, took my mom to the concert. Mom said it was one of the greatest treats of her life. The tickets were mighty pricey. Finding that ticket stub was a nice memory of Mom.

The third personal reason I related to the movie was because of the charisma and voice of Pavarotti. Those two qualities in him reminded me of the same qualities in Johnny Cash.

Before any Champs gasp in horror that I would include those two men in the same sentence, let me reassure them that I feel Pavarotti was one of the greatest singers of all time, whereas, Johnny was one of the great country music singers of all time, whom I personally knew and worked with for two years.

I believe the movie Pavarotti will win Academy Awards for best musical soundtrack and best documentary. Ron Howard was a genius to use Pavarotti’s true voice throughout the movie, and the true voices of all other singers in the movie.

On the other hand, I felt one of the shortcomings of the movie, “Walk the Line,” the story of Johnny Cash’s life, was that his true voice was not used. Joaquin Phoenix did a great job, but the movie could have won an Oscar for best musical score had Johnny’s voice been used. It was unique like Pavarotti’s and his charisma was amazing to observe.

And speaking of other voices in Pavarotti, Bono of U2, had an important part in the movie. He and Pavarotti did a duet together, initiated by Pavarotti, and Bono was extensively interviewed as well. Bono’s appearance enhanced the movie.

There will be critics of this movie. Opera critics who may think by joining together The Three Tenors bastardized true opera. And later, he sang with other rock and roll singers.

And, other people will feel that Pavarotti’s infidelity damaged his singing reputation. They may be right. And that behavior was wrong.

But Pavarotti was a great humanitarian and donated millions to charities. Not to mention, he is arguably the greatest tenor of all times. His love of all people was evident throughout the movie.

For me, I went from thinking, “Oh no, an opera movie, to walking out of the theater thanking Greta for asking me to go with her and for relishing the memories the movie ignited in me. It was a rewarding and fun senior date on a Wednesday afternoon.

Senior Movin’ Out is harder than Movin’ in

     On Life and Love after 50 eNewsletter –  July 12, 2019

by Thomas P Blake columnist for 25 years

Senior Movin’ Out is harder than Movin’ in. Where are those five sewing machines?

Movin’ Out (from the Broadway musical, featuring the music of Billy Joel) link to song Movin’ Out at end of today’s column

Last August, I received the following email from Stacey, “After 35 years of marriage, I was widowed in 2008. My husband died as a result of injuries received as a Marine in Vietnam Nam; I will not marry again in order to maintain my benefits.

“Since he passed away, I’ve had two significant relationships. The first lasted two years, but ended when his middle-aged adult children, most blatantly the daughters, did not accept me, and at times were passively, aggressively rude.

                                   Seniors Living Together

“In the second relationship, I met Roger in 2013 on It was his first relationship since his wife passed the year before. He begged me for two years to move in with him. I have been living in his home for the past two years. (I still own my own home which my daughter and her husband are renting from me). I’m 67; Roger is 73.

“He promised to make an arrangement through a lawyer, that if something happens to him, I will be able to stay in his home long enough, at least a couple months, in order to make other living arrangements and move, as his children will inherit his house and will sell it immediately.

“He still has not made that arrangement. We’ve had ups and downs. Other than not making the arrangement although he promised, we seem to be on fairly steady ground with one exception. As was the case in my first relationship mentioned above, middle-aged daughters are causing the problem.

“I feel Roger’s intent is to let me know that I am not, and never will be, part of their family, or even considered a friend of the family.

“Here’s why I feel that way: family group texts include everyone but me, invitations arrive with only Roger’s name on them, Christmas gift cards and Christmas cards come with his name only, to name two examples.

“We both sign invitations, cards and gifts to them, but I have NEVER been thanked or acknowledged. I feel his children call the shots and are worried that I may ‘get something that should be theirs.’

“All the while Roger continues to sing their praises and brag about his children.

“I worry about being locked out of his home should something suddenly happen to him. I have brought it up several times, to no avail.

“His children, mid-40s, are very vocal and openly discuss what they will get when he dies. Roger avoids any conversation about the problems with them when they occur, even though he sees it and knows it’s happening.

“The only time he addressed it was when he took his entire family, kids and grandkids, and me on vacation (he pays for their family vacation every year, and I pay for my family vacation every year). On that vacation, his daughter ignored me the entire week.

“He noticed and knew she ignored me; he told me ‘that’s just how she is.’ The following year, I would not go with them because it’s too uncomfortable for me to be ignored all week, actually, all the time by her.

“After my refusing to go along and forcing the issue, he did tell her to knock it off. She now says hello and goodbye to me…unbelievable.

“We love to travel and do things. I am trying to ignore the negative and enjoy life. Not feeling warmth and acceptance from his side is a huge turn off that I am forced to intermittently work through when stuff happens.

“For now, I am continuing in the relationship, but it gets difficult at times. Your newsletters inform me that there are fewer older single men, and it’s so hard to start over again. I am thinking that sometimes even though it’s not perfect, it can still be good.”

                           Tom responded to Stacey last August:

“Roger would have to put the living-in-his-house provision in his will to keep you there for x period of time. My estate planner says it takes a minimum of six months to get a property to market and sell. You should ask for and insist on it.

“Are you financially comfortable? Do you have the financial ability to leave? Do not stay in this relationship only because there is a lack of senior men.”

A woman friend also gave Stacey the same advice: get something legal in writing.

                   This week, Tom heard from Stacey with an update

Stacey wrote, “Over this past 11 months, I have pressed for what you and my friend suggested, with no response or positive action towards securing my staying in Roger’s home for six months if something happens to him, i.e. death or a nursing home.

“I finally made a request that he at least have something prepared stating that I will be able to get my belongings out of his home and won’t be locked out by his kids if something happens to him. I have five industrial sewing machines and equipment. Fabric, notions, in a makeshift workshop in his basement. I am a lifelong seamstress and it’s my main hobby since I retired.

“My 34-year profession was a paralegal and I’ve seen that happen more than once. Still no action. Finally, I pressed, it got heated, he told me to get the f… out, so I did.

 Where are those five sewing machines?

“Six weeks ago, I moved back into my home, the day after Roger said that to me, with my daughter, her husband and my two grandsons.

“Financially I am ok. We are making our living accommodations work for now, and my son-in-law moved the rest of my belongings, including my sewing machines, this past weekend.

“In hindsight, what a waste of my time, and all love was lost for him when he began disrespecting me. So, it was not a difficult decision in the end. It was not a real relationship.”

                                Tom’s response to Stacey in July, 2019:

Good to hear you got out with your five sewing machines and other equipment. When respect is lost in a relationship, it’s just no good.

I’m surprised at how he treated you. A waste of time? Not really, consider it a life experience that didn’t work.

    Moving-in together lessons stemming from today’s story for Champs

1. If you own property, keep it, in case you need to go back to it

2. Before moving in with someone, have a written guarantee in a will or estate plan that you will be able to stay there for at least six months–or however long you’d need–to make other arrangements. This is particularly true when the man is older than the woman, as there is a more likely a chance something will happen medically to him first

3. Do not move in with someone, if you sense there will problems created by his or her adult children, because they feel threatened or whatever. Don’t wait until after you have moved in to figure out how adult children are going to act toward you. Relationships are difficult enough, without that added baggage

4. Don’t stay in a relationship because there is a lack of men in the dating world

5. Don’t stay in a relationship where you aren’t respected

6. Always have an escape plan—in case things don’t work out

Link to Billy Joel song, “Movin’ Out”:

Dry Your Eyes and other senior dating topics

On Life and Love after 50 eNewsletter – July 5, 2019
Thomas P Blake  columnist for 25 years

There are three parts to today’s eNewsletter 

I call it “Dry Your Eyes” and “Senior dating topics”

Part One – Someone tell me why people who send long emails don’t respond when I answer?

As a journalist, I admit, I’m sometimes baffled. Here’s why:

An email arrives in my inbox. It could be from a Champ, but not necessarily. It could be from someone who isn’t on our eNewsletter mailing list. Perhaps, she or he did a Google search about relationships and my Finding Love After 50 website popped up. Through the website, the sender contacted me.

If the topic pertains to what I write about in this eNewsletter—relationships, dating most likely, or relevant senior issues–I’m all ears. Because I’ve done this drill for 25 years, I can generally tell in a sentence or two if the material has column potential.

The email is often long: one, two, or three full pages–1,000 or even 2,000 words. It likely took an hour, probably more, to write. Sometimes, more often than not, there are no paragraph breaks. So, I separate the material into paragraphs. The email usually ends with the sender asking for advice or comments.

As a courtesy, I attempt to respond immediately, simply to let the sender know I received the email and that I will reply in detail when I have time.

Later, after I’ve had a chance to assimilate and perhaps dissect what was written, I will respond with questions or comments to clarify any confusion with what’s written. If I feel the information is column-worthy, I will ask for permission to publish what was sent, even though at this point I’m not sure I will use it.

By column-worthy, I mean, information that Champs will find interesting, entertaining, or helpful.

I don’t charge for my time. I figure my payment is being able to use the information that was sent to me. In that way, these weekly eNewsletters can always be fresh. New information flows in. It’s a system I’ve used for years and it works.

But here’s what baffles me.

Often, not always, even though I’ve responded, I hear nothing more from the sender. Why did the sender put his or her valuable time into writing me, and then not follow up?

Was she just venting to make herself feel better? Did she figure out the answers on her own? Did she get sick, or, heaven forbid, pass away?

When I hear nothing more, I assume that I’ve received permission to use the information, since the sender asked for my comments, but I change the name so the chances of the person being identified are remote.

Such was the case last week with Judy, age 78, the woman who was never married. She was the one conflicted about moving to the boonies to be with her boyfriend of two years. She felt she and he were too different. Her email was around 1,000 words. Not a peep back from her after I responded to her twice.

And I checked Mail Chimp, the email marketing platform that I use to publish the eNewsletters, which shows who opened each eNewsletter, and who didn’t. She didn’t even bother to open last Friday’s eNewsletter, the one that exclusively featured her story and the sage advice tailored to her situation.

Someone please tell me why this happens.

Part 2 – Neil Diamond Broadway Musical (I hope he includes the song, “Dry Your Eyes”
It was announced this week that a Broadway musical about the life and music of Neil Diamond is being written by New Zealander, three-time Academy Award nominee, Anthony McCarten. He is best known for writing the smash movie musical “Bohemian Rhapsody.”

I think most of you are aware how much I love Diamond’s song, “Dry Your Eyes.” I tried to suggest to McCarten on Facebook that he include that song in the musical. Couldn’t find a good Facebook page for him.

But, I saw that Neil Diamond posted on his own Facebook page a response to the announcement news of the upcoming musical production. Diamond wrote, “So good, so good.” And most of us know that is from Diamond’s song, “Sweet Caroline,” where the audience, all together, chants out those words.

So I put my “Dry Your Eyes” suggestion on Diamond’s Facebook page. I think he’s got like 1.5 million followers so there’s about a 99.9 percent chance he won’t see my suggestion. If “Dry Your Eyes” is included in the musical, I will take Greta to New York to see it (I probably will take her to NYC to see it even if “Dry Your Eyes” doesn’t make the cut).

I provided the link to my YouTube video of him singing that song two weeks ago. And included it at the column end again today.

Part 3 – Why senior singles need to get out and interact with people

I realize that most of our Champs can’t attend the monthly Meet and Greets at Tutor and Spunky’s Deli in Dana Point. It’s just not geographically feasible. But, that doesn’t mean they can’t get out and about and interact socially with people near where they live across the USA and Canada, and in a few other countries.

It’s important to socialize. You never know what might happen; you might meet someone new. The perfect example was last week in Dana Point. When I first saw Jim and Beverly at the May Meet and Greet, Jim (in the red shirt with his back to the photo) was seated at a table with his buddy. Beverly was seated at a table with four other women (to the left of Jim’s table). The chances of them meeting seemed remote to me–they weren’t mingling.

Women and men at separate tables in the early moments of the May 22 Meet and Greet (photo by Tom Blake)

Apparently, Beverly didn’t find this “women-only-at-one-table and men-only-at-another table” arrangement acceptable. She took the initiative to be assertive by moving to Jim’s table and introduced herself. And guess what? A month later at the June Meet and Greet, they attended together. Might it become a relationship? Who knows? But, new friends were made.

Beverly and Jim: What a difference a month makes (photo by Tom Blake)

This would never have happened if they hadn’t gotten off the couch and out of the house. Goes to show…if it can happen in little old Dana Point, it can happen anywhere else where singles find themselves.

Another example of making it happen were Don and Edie. They attended. They met on in May, 2018. Handsome couple, don’t you think?

Don and Edie – met on in May, 2018

Link to Neil Diamond singing Dry Your Eyes at LA Forum, August, 2017: