Have you been putting off estate planning because… You’re not wealthy enough for it to be worth the time or money? Your family gets along and would figure it out? The chance that you’re going to die anytime soon is somewhere between low and non-existent?
The reality is that estate planning is about much more than who would get what if you died. And while you may not feel wealthy enough to describe what you have as an “estate,” and while your family may get along great, the reality is that, in an emergency, your and family’s care and well-being will depend not only on your family’s ability to cooperatively and competently handle your affairs (which may not be as easy as you think), but also on the policies and procedures of large, faceless government and for-profit bureaucracies, such as your treating medical facility, your bank, your mortgage servicer, your credit card providers, your insurers, your brokerage, your county clerk, the DMV, the postal service, the IRS, a district court judge, etc., etc., etc.
Would they care what you want? If they would care, would they know what you want? If they would know, but it differs from their normal rules, policies, procedures, etc., would they be required to give you what you want or would they be allowed to ignore it in favor of their usual practices?
For an example of how quickly you can experience a feeling of loss of control, read Lisa’s story:
The dust has settled. Caley turned 18 the end of April, soccer banquet, finals and graduation. Two days later a late night visit to the ER resulting in a surgery the next morning. Everything now fine and she’s on the mend. The worst part about it was not being able to be Mom. Since she’s 18, she has to make medical decisions for herself. All the doctoring and nursing questions, treatment etc. had to be answered and decided by her (only 3 weeks after becoming an adult). I was with her the whole time, yet felt totally powerless. What if that happened when she was away at college and the situation more serious and she was totally incapacitated? I’m sure you can imagine some horrific scenarios…
I have known for a bit that I needed to update my will, power of attorney(s) and such, but like most of us I put it off (and off and off). Not an exciting thing to do, right?
I know a lot of our kids are heading off to college in the fall, some close to home and some thousands of miles away. How do you think they will hand a medical emergency without the support and guidance of their parents? What do you have in place to be able to help them? Now is the time to find out what you need. If it’s been a while or you don’t have an estate plan, the time is NOW to review, update or get it done, especially adding a medical power of attorney (I think that’s what its called) for your young adult son or daughter.
Before Caley heads up to Colorado Mesa University in August, I’ll be calling my good friend and estate planning expert, Dan McKenzie, to find out what I need to do. If you live in Colorado, you should too!