There’s No Time Like the Present to Do Some Estate Planning
“I want to tell you about something I’m going through that I hope will lead you to take action — today.”
The above quote is from Washington Post finance columnist Michelle Singletary, whose mother was recently critically injured in a house fire. Her mother valued her privacy to such an extreme that she never wanted to create any sort of estate plan. Michelle learned the hard way what a disaster this mindset is. She and her family are hitting nothing but hurdles trying to get even the most basic information about her mother’s finances, and are having to second-guess her wishes at every turn.
You can hear the urgency in Michelle’s voice as she tells her story to NPR’s Here and Now correspondent by clicking here.
Here is an excerpt from Michelle’s Washington Post article in which she urges everyone to take action now to get basic estate planning documents in place:
“My mother was in a house fire and is in critical condition in a burn center. She’s on a ventilator. As we work with the health professionals, we are coming up against a lot of roadblocks that have created a lot of stress.
“My mother was fiercely protective of her personal information. She wouldn’t prepare a will, which specifies your wishes for your assets, or a living will or other directives that stipulate what kind of medical care you want or don’t want if you’re unable to speak for yourself.
“We are praying my mother will survive. But this isn’t about my mother and my situation. It’s about you.
“I’m begging you to please put in place the paperwork and gather the personal and financial information that a designated family member, friend or professional will need to take care of your affairs should anything happen to you. Do some estate planning.
“If you care about those who will handle things for you in case you become incapacitated, help them now. Do it if you have dependent children or someone depending on you financially. Do it for the people you will leave behind.
“Only 35 percent of Americans have a will, according to a 2012 survey by FindLaw.com, a legal information Web site. If you die intestate, which is what dying without a valid will is called, your assets could be distributed according to the laws of your state or as the result of a costly court battle.
“Stop saying everyone knows what you want. Everybody probably doesn’t know. Or in their grief, they may not be able to make the decisions you would have preferred. If you don’t leave written instructions, emotions or unresolved issues can get in the way.
“Don’t be so secretive or scared that someone is going to steal from you that it ends up costing more money to you or to the person ultimately given the task of handling your affairs.
“Do it to help the medical and hospital personnel who may one day have to care for you. All their focus needs to be on you. They shouldn’t be dragged into your family drama or a witness to it — which can stress them out — because you didn’t take the time or couldn’t figure out somebody to trust.
“Today, not tomorrow, start putting your affairs in order. Help eliminate or at least minimize the anxiety and frustration and even the possible fights — because you know your family — that will occur because you didn’t do some estate planning.
“Taking action now can bring peace during a time that can be anything but peaceful.”
I couldn’t have said it better myself.
Contact me today to schedule your complimentary Estate Planning Session.
by Jodie Gilbert