My Holiday Example of Why Planning is Important

My eye’s pop up.  My wife has just nudged me awake.  It is 2 AM, the morning of December 27th.  I roll over and she says:

“I think I am in labor but you should go back to sleep until the contractions get closer.”

Gee, thanks, I think to myself.  But, I close my eyes. My mind begins to race.

Our son is not due for another two weeks. We are definitely within the timeframe of him coming but we were not ready.  I don’t mean the crib wasn’t built or his room wasn’t painted.  It was.  We had a problem with our plan to take care of your daughter when we went to the hospital for the birth of our son.  We had people ready to help us out before the 27th.  However, everyone that was going help was either working the next day or was out of town for the holidays until later in the week. To top it off, the pre-school our daughter attends was closed until December 28th in celebration of Christmas.  December 27th and 28th just seemed to slip our minds with the holidays.

I was trying to figure out if surgical gear came in size 4T for our daughter when my wife said her contractions stopped and must have only been severe Braxton-hicks ones.  The next morning, my wife and I immediately bolstered our safety net of potential babysitters just in case.  Luckily for us, we did take those additional steps because our son did eventually come a few days later, still early, but we had a back-up babysitter come over to watch our daughter until a family member arrived.

How does my story apply to estate planning?  Very simple.  I hear a number of stories, really excuses, why people do not plan there estate. Most range from the person does not believe they are affluent enough to they are single and have no dependents to the belief that intestate statutes will be adequate for their estate.

When I have these conversations, almost every single person has a “yeah, but” moment when they describe why they have not planned their estate.  For example, a person that thinks intestate will be a good enough estate plan still wants to set aside a portion of that money for charity. Or the single person has not taken steps to designate someone to speak for them if they become incapacitated. Or the non-affluent person runs a small business worth $2 million and has several employees that depend on that person for employment.  Each person needs to take planning steps for different reasons and ignoring is akin to my wife and I forgetting about December 27th.

What’s the moral of the story? In essence, planning is important for everything you do.  Sure, some things need less planning but, overall, life altering events should not be inhibited by a lack of planning.  But, in life, almost everything we do has some chance of error that could complicate the situation or there is a hole. By planning, we can limit the impact of those errors or even eliminate them. Taking the time to organize your estate plugs one of those holes.  It ensures that you and your loved ones do not have your mind racing in the middle of the night if an estate issue appears.  For me, it all worked out with a beautiful, healthy, baby boy but I wonder a little what might have been…

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About Chris Guest

I am a trust and estate planning attorney working in the Washington, DC metro area. I offer comprehensive estate planning, trust administration, probate services and general business counseling for accountants, attorneys, business owners, consultants, federal and local government employees, retirees, other business professionals and other individuals.
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