The Blessing of Planning Ahead

Many years ago, I wrote an article called: What What You Do If You Had 46 Days to Live?

It referenced an article about a man named Rob Jaffe, whose doctors diagnosed him with a rare blood disease that took his life in just 46 days.

Rob’s brother, Chuck, wrote the article to help others learn about the value of estate planning. Two years before his diagnosis, Rob had visited a lawyer and finalized his estate planning documents. It allowed Rob to spend his final days focusing on the people and things that mattered most, rather than visiting with lawyers, making estate planning decisions, and worrying that he lived long enough to file legal documents.

I thought about that article this month because I worked with a client whose estate plan was not current when doctors told him he would die within a week.

Despite all the stress related to his diagnosis, he wanted to make sure that his legal affairs were in order. His primary concern was not leaving a mess for his wife, whom he loved very much.

There were many loose ends to tie. He needed to:

  • Finalize and execute his estate planning documents (finding a notary who would be admitted to a hospital with Covid restrictions was challenging);
  • Review his financial accounts to make sure he designated beneficiaries consistent with his wishes; and
  • Mail documents to the court clerk because court closures prevented recording the documents in person.

His wife helped. Everything got done before he died a week later.

His death was heartbreaking. Not only because a life cut short is always heartbreaking, but also because he was forced to spend a significant amount of his last few days focused on legal and financial details instead of the things that mattered most.

Life is fleeting. Despite our plans and seemingly good health, really tragic and life-altering things can happen in an instant, especially with a deadly virus lurking.

Dust off your plans. Read them through to ensure they still accomplish your goals. If you would like to make changes, do it right away. Planning ahead is a blessing.

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