PB Law Blog... Trusts and Stuff

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Worst-Case Scenario.

In March of 2017, a good friend of mine died tragically in a horrific car accident.  She left behind her 9-year old twin daughters. The event had a massive effect on my life for several reasons.

I have been fortunate enough to only ever have experienced the loss of my Great Grandparents & Grandparents, which was sad, but in the natural order of things.  I don’t ever recall there being any family feuds after their deaths, as our family had created trusts & wills and updated them regularly. In fact, my Grandmother’s Will was constantly being updated and previous copies destroyed depending on her mood and which family member she was suddenly deciding to disinherit!  She was a unique woman but, thank goodness, she knew the importance of protecting her Legacy.

The sudden loss of our young friend, however, like many of these freak incidences, can really send shock waves through those near & dear. For me, the reaction was intense and caused me to stop in my tracks to reassess my ‘life’s journey’.

I watched as my friend’s parents, brother, children and husband grappled to make sense of their new reality whilst still trying to be grateful that her husband hadn’t died in the accident as well.  

You see, so many of my friends in their thirties & forties do not have any estate planning in place.  When I ask why, many say “that it’s for older people”, “it’s on their to-do list”, or “I can’t afford that”.  I think they’re forgetting to step back and look at the big picture: 

If we are all working so hard building our futures, wouldn’t you plan to protect it?

Perhaps it’s because we all seem to live paycheck to paycheck these days, but many of us aren't envisioning our financial futures. But: that theory only accounts for one part of estate planning (the money side).  An equally (if not more important) question is: What about naming Permanent Guardians to care for your kids?  Further, the “money” side of things is important, even if you’re not “rich”.  Other things to make plans for include your pets, your “stuff” (especially family heirlooms) and maybe the biggest issue of all:

What about the mess you leave behind for your family and children to deal with???

I am probably biased since I’m currently working at an Estate Planning Firm that deals with both Estate Planning and Probate, so these types of questions are in the forefront of my mind … but so is the loss of my friend and the impact it had on so many of us.

The two types of clients that we see daily are either happy or distraught.

The happy ones are signing off on their Trusts knowing that they have made bold decisions to protect their Legacies.

The distraught ones are reeling in grief of a lost one who not only might have had a tragic demise but didn’t have an Estate Plan in place, and now the assets are stuck in a probate lawsuit.

My eyes have been opened to how fragile life is, how we should live each day to the fullest, and how we shouldn’t be foolish and negligent about what we leave behind.

Make the decision to plan for the Worst Case Scenario… and then live each day with confidence, knowing you’ve done everything in your power to protect your family and your legacy. 

- By Jodie Sacco, © 2019, Phillips Ballenger, PLLC

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