Either you care plenty or not…

Either you care plenty or not…
I’ve seen it happen— a father with three young children drops dead of a heart attack at 40 years old; the sister dies in a skiing accident; the partner who “accidentally” falls off a cliff; the mother who’s breast cancer returns with a vengeance, and before she’s had time to think about the mess of conflicting documents she has in her estate, she’s gone.

My first question to you is this:  Are there people in your life that you love?MMM-2014-02-24-worth-protecting vBecause if the answer is yes, then please, please let them know by giving them some insight into how you would want things to be handled if you were unable to do so. One of the ultimate acts of love is having plenty of care for the people in your life to not want to saddle them with the onerous job of probating your estate, fighting with your relatives and trying to divine what your wishes were.

By contrast, imagine how it feels to have just experienced the tragic loss of your beloved sister/mother/partner/spouse, and though you are deep in grief, you know:

1) Where all her documents are,

2) Who to call to help you (attorney, financial planner, accountant, banker),

3) What she wants done with her remains,

4) Where to find the letter she told you she had written— that outlines how much you matter to her, and all the things she put in place to minimize your stress as you handle her affairs.

Different, right?

Let me cut to the chase:  if you have a body, own any property whatsoever, have children, love anyone and/or accept the reality that you are just as mortal as the rest of us… you need some basic estate planning documents. Why?  Because if you don’t have these documents you are sending an engraved letter to your state of residency that says something like this: last will and testamentMaybe you wonder why I’m ranting? Because not planning is selfish, unloving and in some cases, downright mean. Do me a favor— Believe me when I say that you, your life, your stuff, and your kids have value.  Create plans based on where you are right now. Yet we know things change— estate planning protects you when things go better than expected, and when suddenly faced with death or disability.

Most importantly, estate planning helps preserve and strengthen the relationships you leave behind because your people get to focus on grieving rather than fighting over your intentions and your stuff.

Here is a printable checklist for getting your documents in order.

Screen Shot 2014-02-27 at 6.09.37 AMTake a minute and evaluate the gaps—

  1. Have you updated the beneficiaries on your retirement plans, life insurance and annuities?
  2. Have you written a will, power of attorney and healthcare directive? Is it current?
  3. Do people in your life know where to find your important documents?
  4. Have you written down your wishes around burial/cremation and end of life care?

What gets in the way of completing these tasks?  It can be painful… sometimes we don’t know who to will our stuff to, or who we would trust with our children.  Talk about this with friends and family— or comment on my blog. You simply have to make the plan that fits best RIGHT now.  You can always change it.  If you don’t want your children to end up wards of the state, or your partner getting booted out of the home you’ve shared for 10 years…. create estate planning documents.  Please.  Because you matter.

#21 Rachel- Protect 2 color corrected

Note:  I’m not an estate planning attorney.  I care because everyday I witness the results of good, bad, and even no planning.

7 Comments

  1. Holly 5 years ago

    WOW! I believed I had been reasonably responsible in having priorities in order if the worst case scenario were to occur. But looking at this list and just beginning to collect into folders I see that having these safety measure in place isn’t going to do much good if they are scattered about and even I am having difficulties compiling them.
    Having them in order will also allow me to evaluate just where I am in my estate… when I purchased that life insurance policy, it was “plenty” but now that financial obligations have changed is it even “enough”?
    Thank you for this eye-opening post!

    • Luna 5 years ago

      Thanks for commenting Holly! I love that you realize one way to evaluate the gaps in your financial planning is to have everything well organized. It’s much less overwhelming this way. And often we find a document that needs to be updated, or is no longer relevant– which is also a way to stay on top of things.

  2. Melody LeBaron 5 years ago

    I’m a Professional Organizer, often called in by the executor after a death, to help de-clutter, organize and distribute the deceased’s possessions. I’ve seen the difference a good plan makes when a family is grieving…. and the devastating disruptions that can ensure when there is no plan in place. These are conversations we need to be having with family members and friends, of all ages. Thank you, Luna!!

    • Author
      Luna 5 years ago

      Melody–thank you for your comment. I never thought of recommending a family hire a professional organizer after a family member dies… what a great idea! And yes, it can be so devastating when planning is minimal or non-existent!

  3. Stacie Flint 5 years ago

    that printable checklist for estate planning ease really was helpful! the default last will and testament really said it well. thank you!

    • Author
      Luna 5 years ago

      Thanks Stacie! Glad it was helpful. Let me know if you have further questions!

  4. drlsenders@comcast.net 5 years ago

    I love You Luna! I feel very honored to be within your brilliant, talented, and awe
    inspiring mind and visual explorations about money, women, life and God. I think about you every day and reflect on your “Wild Money” class and how I am applying
    it to everything I say and do. Surprise! It is working! I am sorry I was too into myself to wish you “God Speed” when you were sick, but I wish you “God Speed”
    in your mission to eradicate debt. I am going do my plenty work and report back to
    you. I wish you the plentyiest year of your life and give Amy a hug for me?

    Love,
    Laurie Senders

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