What’s Next: Navigating Life’s Transitions in Southeast Alaska

Welcome to “What’s Next? Navigating Life’s Transitions in Southeast Alaska” a podcast to help you plan for current and future life transitions. An attorney in Southeast Alaska, Liz Smith focuses her law practice on estate planning, but this podcast brings much more than topics about who gets what and when! Liz hosts pleasant and practical conversations with industry leaders and practitioners in her community. We’ll investigate building and leaving your legacy, supporting aging loved ones and parents and the resources to assist you, and we’ll dig into topics around birth (and special considerations for new parents), aging, and death, that will affect each of us.

Listen wherever you get your podcasts (you can also find the player at the bottom of the screen on our website). Please subscribe so that more people find us, and we would love your feedback and ideas for future guests!

What’s Next Ep 09: Hospice and Home Care Services in Juneau, Alaska
Jennifer Carson, Director of Hospice and Home Care of Juneau

Jennifer Carson has been with Catholic Community Service (CCS) for nine years and currently serves as the Director of Hospice and Home Care of Juneau. Jennifer is a team-focused leader who draws upon the unique abilities of her staff to build a cohesive team. She stays informed on state and national trends and works collaboratively with others.  Jennifer has over 10 years of experience with healthcare and social service compliance, and over 15 years of experience providing direct services to adults with chronic and severe mental illness. Today, Jennifer uses her background to help spread awareness about the accessible end-of-life resources in southeast Alaska.

For patients to be approved for hospice care, they must have a terminal disease and a life expectancy of six months or less. Jennifer explains that before entering hospice, it is important to have an established plan of care. Not only will it make it easier on the patient, but on the family and hospice staff too. Whether it’s home care or hospice, Jennifer and her staff strive to provide comfortable and reliable care to every patient.

Tune into this week’s episode of the What’s Next podcast to learn more about what the Hospice and Home Care of Juneau provide, the difference between hospice and home care, and the importance of establishing a relationship with your caregivers so you can create a comfortable end-of-life experience for you and your loved ones.


  • “The goal of home health is to get somebody who’s had an illness or injury get back to a functioning level and hopefully back to where they were before.” (03:43-03:54)
  • “Hospice means that your doctor says, if your terminal disease process follows the normal course, you would have six months or less to live.” (05:07-05:18)
  • “One of the misconceptions about hospice is if you haven’t passed in six months, you’re going to get kicked out.” (05:29-05:35)
  • “Sometimes your disease process goes quicker than what you thought and getting everything finalized can take quite a while. So I think having everything in order certainly makes things so much easier.” (18:08-18:25)
  • “Hospice is all about helping you follow through with your plans for your care.” (18:40-18:45)
  • “What is unique about us here in Juneau is anything that’s not covered by your insurance, you will never receive a bill for.” (31:26-31:35)


Website | https://www.ccsak.org/hospice–home-care-of-juneau.html

Website | https://www.ccsak.org/

Phone | (907) 463-6100

What’s Next Ep 8: Working With a Professional Personal Representative or Trustee
Brenda Tudor, Trust Officer

Brenda Tudor, Trust Officer at Peak Trust Company, has worked in the financial services industry for over 30 years, serving 17 of those years as a trust officer. Brenda’s extensive experience has allowed her to play an integral part in creating personal estate planning strategies for many clients. Brenda is passionate about helping both the trustee and their beneficiaries satisfy their needs. Brenda currently serves on the board of the Anchorage Estate Planning Council and holds a position as the Vice Chair of Anchorage Senior Activity Center Endowment Trust Board of Trustees.

When you are putting together an estate plan, will, or trust, one of the most important decisions is to pick who you want to be the personal representative. According to Brenda, there are many reasons why it may be best to leave this role to a third party. Brenda and her colleagues at Peak Trust are well educated and prepared to handle any aspect of the trust process. Their main goal is to create a good standing relationship with everyone involved, something family members are often not equipped to do. Whether it be their spouse, children, grandchildren, or even a charitable organization, Brenda explains that a trust can be the perfect vehicle for people to leave behind their legacy.

Tune into this week’s episode of the What’s Next podcast to learn more about the types of trusts, the role of a trust officer, and how you can use a trust to help your loved ones even after you’ve passed on.


  • “Understanding our client’s intent when they’re drafting documents is important to us because that knowledge can’t be obtained once they’ve passed.” (11:03-11:13)
  • “We don’t like to say no, as long as it falls within the perimeter of the trust document. We like to work with the beneficiaries to make sure that they can gain a good education and can be successful out in society once they’ve graduated.’ (18:12-18:24)
  • “Something I take pride in is getting to know my beneficiaries to be able to help them in the best manner I can, and serve them the best way that I can under the parameters of the document.” (21:31-21:40)
  • “Some beneficiaries do not understand the fact that it’s not their money, it’s money that is put there for their benefit.” (33:44-33:51)
  • “There’s a lot of thought that goes into putting a trust together, and a lot of people don’t fully understand how trusts can be used as a great estate vehicle for their family members down the road.” (36:53-37:05)



What’s Next Ep 7: Navigating Guardianship in Alaska – Resources for Current and Prospective Guardians
Lisa Wawrzonek, Administrator of the Alaska State Association for Guardianship & Advocacy

“Not everyone is aware they could be in a position to be a guardian for themselves or their loved ones,” says Lisa Wawrzonek, Administrator for ASAGA (Alaska State Association of Guardianship & Advocacy). Lisa knows the importance of establishing a plan for end-of-life or unexpected emergencies, but unfortunately, most people don’t. Due to this large discrepancy, Lisa continues to educate communities across Alaska about the tools and resources regarding adult guardianship and conservatorship in hopes of making the transition easier for everyone. 

The unfortunate reality is that you never know when something tragic might happen, and that is why Lisa encourages everyone to get their affairs in writing as soon as possible. While starting the process can be intimidating, Lisa explains that there are many tools available to help you. Lisa shares that the most important thing to do is educate yourself. ASAGA works with the Alaska Court System to help provide training videos, classes, and even personal mentors that will be there to guide you every step of the way.

Tune into this week’s episode of the What’s Next podcast to learn the difference between conservatorship and guardianship, what resources Alaska has to offer, and how you can talk with your family about making the decision that is best for you.


  • “Come July of 2017, we literally had a 625% growth so that really lets us know this is something that may be needed.”
  • “We would first encourage you to educate yourself about the options before guardianship, such as supported decision making agreements or powers of attorney.” (10:49-10:57)
  • “The court has issued this order giving you permission to act on someone else’s behalf. And because of that, the court has to monitor and enforce that order, no different than if it was a criminal or civil case.” (20:05-20:19)
  • “We have to be mindful that while we are there to conserve and protect money, we are also there to enrich lives and allow decision making.” (39:11-39:15)


Alaska State Association for Guardianship & Advocacy (ASAGA) | https://asaga.info/

        Phone | 907-444-4015

        Email | asagaak@protonmail.com

        Annual Conference | https://asaga.info/conference/

        Featured trainings | https://asaga.info/er-featured-training/


Alaska Court System – Guardianship forms and resources | http://courts.alaska.gov/shc/guardian-conservator/index.htm

Alaska 211 | https://alaska211.org/

Alaska Disability Law Center | https://www.dlcak.org/

Truelink Financial | https://www.truelinkfinancial.com/

Alaska Statutory Power of Attorney (free, fill out on your own) | https://alaskalawhelp.org/resource/power-of-attorney-form?ref=JKmkS#iB409EEC2-01B9-4F60-9582-591BF2337F26

Alaska Statutory Health Care Directive (free, fill out on your own) | http://dhss.alaska.gov/dph/Director/Documents/advancedirective.pdf

For all of Liz Smith’s resources, give her a like on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lizsmithlaw

What’s Next Ep 06: Bravery and bunnies – charting a new career path for yourself
Karen Tessandore, counselor and owner of Counseling for Her


Karen Tessandore, owner of Counseling for Her, had never been to college before the age of 40. After being tired of living paycheck to paycheck, Karen knew it was time to make a change. Despite personal challenges, and doubts from people in her life, Karen pushed through six years of school to pursue a masters in counseling. Today, she is a licensed therapist who is passionate about helping to inspire other women to navigate through transitional periods.

When Karen was trying to figure out what was next for her, she reflected back on what she was good at. For her whole life, Karen has always been the friend that is there for people when they are down. She realized quickly that professional counseling would be a career where she could fulfill her passions and have financial stability for her family. For anyone who feels stuck, Karen suggests looking at the things that you already do. She explains that most times, that is where we can bring the most value.

No matter what stage you are at in your life, you can make the change to get unstuck. Tune into this week’s episode of What’s Next to hear more about Karen’s inspirational journey. Learn more about her work at Counseling for Her, and how you can take the next steps towards a life that looks good on the outside but feels even better on the inside.


  • I just decided that this was my path. And once that decision was made, I never once have changed my mind. (16:10-16:19)
  • “In America, we’re fed through our culture the idea of fast success. But even the ones that we think we can look at that are fast successes, they’re not fast, because it takes time to develop things.” (17:50-18:03)
  • “Look at the things that you enjoy, and that seem easy to you. We have this feeling that when things are easy for us, they’re not valuable. But if it’s easy for you, maybe that is your skill, or that is the thing that you have to offer.” (23:15-23:29)



  • In the Company of Women: Inspiration and Advice from over 100 Makers, Artists, and Entrepreneurs by Grace Bonney
  • My Friend Fear: Finding Magic in the Unknown by Meera Lee Patel 
  • The Art of Non-Conformity: Set Your Own Rules, Live the Life You Want, and Change the World (Perigee Book.) by Chris Guillebeau
  • Fire Starter Sessions:  A Soulful + Practical Guide to Creating Success on Your Own Terms by Danielle LaPorte
  • Designing Your Life by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans
  • The Big Leap by Gay Hendricks


What’s Next Ep 05: Incapacity Planning, Trusts, & What I’m Excited About with your host, Attorney Liz Smith

“Estate planning is thinking about how to prepare so that if you are incapacitated, or you die, you have a plan in place,” says host and estate planning attorney, Liz Smith. In today’s episode, Liz takes a deep dive into how trusts work and explains the importance of planning for the end of life.

One of the most commonly discussed topics in Liz’s career is incapacity. She has seen too many times the consequences of not planning for unexpected events. Many young people often think they can put off thinking about the end of life, but in reality, you just never know when tragedy may strike. According to Liz, the first step you want to take is to designate power of attorney to someone you trust ASAP. Many clients are concerned about the potential gray area when it comes to incapacitation, but Liz explains that it would take inputs from several physicians to determine whether or not you are capable of making your own decisions. Even though you may feel like you have enough trust in your family, it is required to have some form of legal documentation in order to pass decision-making responsibility onto someone else. Liz can’t stress the significance of getting this process started now to save you or your family time and money in the future.

Tune into the first solo episode of the What’s Next podcast for a conversation with Liz Smith about end-of-life preparation. Expand your knowledge about planning for power of attorney, wills, and trusts so that you can better protect yourself from anything life may throw at you!


  • ‘What I consider estate planning is thinking about how to prepare, so that if you are incapacitated, or when you die you have a plan in place.”  (03:19-03:30)
  • “If you are out there and you do not have a power of attorney, and at least a single healthcare agent domination where you’re saying who you want to make healthcare decisions for you if you cannot, then stop this right now and in the show notes will be a link to free power of attorney and health care forms documents.” (03:51-04:13)
  • “With a power of attorney, you can decide what powers you want to give that person, I would say broader, the better.” (05:25-05:35)
  • “The very basic thing that you want in place, of course, is a will. A will allows you to decide who you want to play in certain roles and where your assets go.” (13:12-13:24)


For all of Liz Smith’s resources give her a like on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lizsmithlaw

Free AK Power of Attorney: https://courts.alaska.gov/shc/family/docs/poa-booklet.pdf

Free AK Healthcare Directive: http://dhss.alaska.gov/dph/Director/Documents/advancedirective.pdf

Five Wishes: https://fivewishes.org/

Dementia Directive from End of Life Washington: https://endoflifewa.org/tools-for-planning/dementia-directives/

Dementia Directive from Dartmouth: https://sites.dartmouth.edu/dementiadirective/

Webinar regarding end of life planning – with Vance Sanders and Liz Smith, hosted by the Foundation for End of Life Care: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NXNrgVg6AWI

Ramit Sethi Podcast, I Will Teach You to be Rich: https://www.iwillteachyoutoberich.com/podcast/

What’s Next Ep 04: Buying Your First Home: With Real Estate Agent Heather Skaggs

Welcome! My name is Heather Skaggs and I am proud to be a Realtor with RE/MAX of Juneau. I’ve called Juneau home for over 35 years and I truly love the beauty of this community.

As a Realtor, I completely respect and value the trust that my clients place in me and I strive everyday to exceed their expectations. My clients can count on me to make the process of buying or selling a home as stress-free as possible. I take great pride in being honest, dependable, and trustworthy.

As a Juneauite, I love the beauty that Alaska offers us and I’m proud to call Juneau my home. I value shopping locally, supporting small businesses and participating in community events.

When you choose to work with me I will dedicate my time, attention and expertise to every aspect of your home sale or purchase.

Tune into this week’s episode of the What’s Next podcast for a conversation with Heather Skaggs about all things real estate. Learn more about the roles and benefits of a real estate agent in the homebuying process, how to hire the right agent, and how Heather saves her clients money in a legal and responsible way.


  • “My job is to keep as much of my clients’ money in their pockets as I possibly can. There are several opportunities for negotiation throughout a real estate transaction, and I do my best to make sure that you get what you want without overpaying whenever possible.” (03:55-04:27)
  • “Just like most professions in life, I think the real benefit comes from the experience and seeing how things play out over and over and over again. That is the most beneficial education, right? Because sometimes it goes really bad. And sometimes there’s something that you could have done about it, and sometimes there’s not. But you know, it doesn’t always go well and that’s not something you learn in a book.” (08:30-09:16)
  • “It’s a very personal decision. So my suggestion is that you need to find someone that you have fairly simple communication with.” (17:18-17:29)
  • “I think that you probably get the most honest feedback from people that have already used a realtor.” (18:24-18:37)


Ep 3, Interview with social entrepreneur and founder of the WIN|WIN, Nim de Swardt

What’s Next Ep 03: Intergenerational Connections and Reflective Storytelling

Guest: Nim de Swardt


Nim de Swardt, is a champion for co-generational connections. She understands that more can be achieved when people of all ages come together. Nim has dedicated her life’s work to bringing together people of all ages and connecting them through their unique experiences. She currently sits as the founder of WIN|WIN, a service of self-discovery through storytelling.

As an experienced “lifestorian”, Nim envisions a world where people are connected to themselves and others through lived experiences. Nim is confident that her service can elevate the human experience and be used as an incentive for co-generational bonding. Nim is adamant that sharing our stories with others allows for knowledge to be passed from one generation to the next, and to her that is a win-win.

Tune into this episode of the What’s Next podcast for a conversation with Nim de Swardt about the significance of intergenerational connection. Learn how to harness the power of your own life stories to promote wisdom and understanding for generations to come!


  • “In large organizations usually executives from the top make decisions and they get pushed down. But what we wanted is to empowered a company of 6,500 employees to also contribute ideas up the pyramid.” (09:34-09:50)
  • “When you capture your life story you win and others win. We recognize that our lived experiences, our insights, our wisdom, and our stories are uniquely ours, but they can be mutually beneficial when shared with our loved ones.” (15:07-15:22)
  • “There is so much untapped wisdom in our elders, in terms of the lessons they have learned along the way.”  (20:33- 20:39)


Books mentioned :

Wisdom at Work – by Chip Conley  The Second Mountain – by David Brooks

Modern Elder Academy: https://www.modernelderacademy.com/

Workshops, including the upcoming intergenerational workshop to be offered soon:https://baja.modernelderacademy.com/workshops

Wisdom Well Blog: https://wisdomwell.modernelderacademy.com/

Nim’s blog that led Liz to find her: https://wisdomwell.modernelderacademy.com/i-just-hired-a-nearly-70-year-old-mentern

Seth Godin’s Blog: https://seths.blog/

AltMBA : https://altmba.com/

Akimbo Workshops: https://akimbo.com/

Encore: https://encore.org/about/

Ep. 2, Interview with the president of the Foundation for End of Life Care, Seanna O’Sullivan

What’s Next Ep 02: Navigating Loss and Illness

Guest: Seanna O’Sullivan


After the unexpected loss of her husband at a young age, Seanna O’Sullivan joined the board for the Foundation for End of Life Care. Three years later, she is the youngest person on the board and she sits as the president of the foundation. Seanna is focused on normalizing the conversation around death and helping others prepare end of life plans for themselves and family members.

Because Seanna and her late husband had yet to reach the age of 50, they thought they had plenty of time to prepare for something like this. When her husband unexpectedly fell ill, there was little time to discuss the expectations and needs of either party. At the time of her husband’s death, Seanna did not know anyone else her age who had experienced what she was going through. Trying to grieve, care for her husband, and plan for the future was incredibly overwhelming. Ultimately, she had to learn by herself how to navigate her new life on short notice.

Tune into this episode of What’s Next for a comfortable conversation regarding one of life’s hardest moments. Learn about some of the resources available, how to have comfortable conversations regarding death, and the importance of preparing you and your loved ones for the end of life.


  • “For many of us, especially in this society, it becomes a real shock when we avoid the subject of death for so long in our lives and suddenly we are faced with it. Most of us don’t really know what to do.” (03:04- 03:14)
  • “If you can have as many things in place and you can talk about things then when that time comes you can focus on the rest of it like the time together.” (17:15- 17:28)


For more information about the End of Life Foundation please visit:  https://www.foundationforendoflifecareak.org/

Ep. 1, Interview with Executive Director of the Juneau Community Foundation, Amy Skillbred

What’s Next Episode 01: Your Guide For Giving: Now & in the Future

Guest: Amy Skillbred


“You don’t have to be a millionaire to leave something to help your community,” says Amy Skillbred, executive director of The Juneau Community Foundation. Amy has served many years on the board of directors for the foundation that has now raised $77 million dollars in funds. Throughout her time, she has helped the people in Juneau establish a plan to give back to their community in ways that represent them best.

A lot of people don’t realize that with the proper planning they can make a difference in their community now and in the future. While we always think we have enough time to plan where and how our money will be distributed after we die, that is not always the case. Amy recommends getting your ideas written down and putting them into a will as soon as you can. The easiest way to delegate your funds is through a percentage to avoid future conflict.

Tune in to this episode of What’s Next for a conversation surrounding legacy. Learn how you can start planning to contribute to your community now and in the future!


“The average bequest in the United States is about $35,000 and that’s average across all 50 states. So you don’t have to be a millionaire to leave something to help your community or leave a legacy.”  (07:29- 07:44)

“When you get to $100,000 you are giving out $5,000 a year and that can make a sustained difference.” (16:12-16:19)


To donate or establish a foundation with The Juneau Community Foundation please go to: https://www.juneaucf.org/

You can contact Amy by email or telephone at:

amy@juneaucf.org 907-321-8884