Several weeks ago, I could not wait to hop on my fancy new bike that had more gears and functionality than my old bike in the hopes it would make my 10-mile local metro park ride much more effortless. Early into my ride, I felt like I was working harder than I ever had before. I stopped at my standard halfway checkpoint and, for the first time I could remember, I contemplated calling for someone to pick me up. I was convinced that my new bike was not nearly as great as it was cracked up to be. I decided to continue but had to walk my bike back home the last half mile of the trip, something that, also had never happened before. When I returned home, I had to sit down, and over the next few days extreme exhaustion began to set in.
We found out that evening that my son had exposure to Covid-19. After over a year of living through this global pandemic and thinking maybe we had some immune superpower against the virus, within five days of that bike ride, my daughter, my son, and I all had positive Covid-19 tests.
In addition to exhaustion, many other symptoms started to settle in, and many things began to run through my mind, such as who might have been exposed? How sick might any one of us get? Given that I had 20+ years on both of my children, it seemed natural that my symptoms were more severe than theirs. While I did not fear death myself, I did fear what would happen to those I might leave behind. I had been a single mother to my two children since 2012 and having the right plans in place in the event of my passing was imperative for them. Knowing my children's personalities, the thought of my soon-to-be 21-year-old and soon-to-be 17-year-old managing a larger sum of money was borderline comical, even during this time.
I spend my days helping people plan for their financial futures, and that includes a premature passing. I frantically began reviewing the planning that I had put in place for my family and myself. The following were just some of the questions that were swirling around in my achy mind:
- I had an estate plan but was it accessible to the trustee of my trust and power of attorney for medical and financial?
- Did the trustee of my trust and power of attorney for medical and financial remember the conversation we had five years ago when my documents were updated?
- Would my family remember how to access my fire-proof safe?
- Would the trustee of my trust be able to contact and easily access the life insurance companies?
- I knew my beneficiaries to my life insurance policies, and my retirement accounts should have been my revocable living trust, but did it all get completed?
- Were my bank accounts and after-tax account set to transfer to my trust upon death?
- I still had a mortgage on my home, and so I had delayed transferring my house to my trust. Would it be difficult for my family to get things settled so my children could stay in the home?
- Suppose I was to be intubated for an extended period of time. Could the successor trustee of my trust and power of attorney for medical and financial access my documents, and did they know where they were stored?
- Would my financial power of attorney be able to locate and initiate my disability insurance policy benefits if needed?
- Would they be able to access my financial plan?
- What about passwords to the different financial sites?
- How will our memories, be preserved and passed on?
- How would my funeral be planned, and what would be my wishes?
I realized that while I had taken steps to organize my financial life while living, including a plan for premature death or disability, I had not taken all of the updated steps to make it accessible to others if I was not around to do so. I then recalled a couple that I had the privilege to work with who shared the practice drill they had for their family. When their family came over for dinner, they were lying on the floor, and they said, "We are dead. What are you going to do now?" Being in my early forties, I had never had a "fire drill" practicing the actual logistics for my children and the individuals named in my documents in the event of a premature passing.
At Vision Capital Partners, we recently began offering an essential service to our clients, taking the next step after the initial wealth planning process. This service helps to facilitate a complete plan for your loved ones if you are not around due to a death or an incapacity. Fortunately, my children and I have recovered from Covid-19. In the past few weeks, I have personally taken steps to make sure that things are organized now if I am not around later. If we can help you initiate these next crucial steps in your planning, please connect with us.