Estate planning basics require time and energy, but being proactive is so important. This is more of a personal blog. Over the years, I have spoken to well over a million people, and many of my “seminar friends” know my story. I have spent many months of my life in the hospital. Once it was a 6 month stretch in an isolation room. When you are in a hospital, your perspective changes on many things. What is truly important in your life quickly comes into focus. For me it was my love of my family and how to care for them.
My love for my family may explain my career focus on estate planning basics. Last week my 5 year old granddaughter was fine, but by Friday late morning she was headed to the hospital. We didn’t know what it was but it was obviously serious. When I caught up with her at the hospital, she was being pulled around in a wagon for tests.
The first CT scan showed a little brain swelling. Her chest X-ray was normal. I held her on the scale while the anesthesiologist got an exact weight. She moaned pathetically when I picked her up out of the wagon. She was mostly “out of it.” I was amazed the next day when she remembered me walking by the wagon and then picking her up to get her weight. The lumbar puncture drew a lot of spinal fluid out of her spine. It was clear. The one hour examination showed no foreign proteins, and normal chemical levels. The doctors suspected spinal meningitis. One doctor commented that our granddaughter’s best chance of survival came because our daughter had been immunized.
The 48 hour culture wait began. It was hard on us all. They started her on intravenous antibiotics. The 64 dollar question was is it virus or bacterial? Bacterial meningitis is fatal in about 3% of 5 year olds. In the others it causes damage, blindness, deafness, paralysis. You can use your imagination to what we were thinking. Viral is just a “let the body handle it” thing, but almost never fatal and not many long-term side effects. She started to respond to the treatments within hours. She could open her eyes and talk some.
Isolation procedures went into effect. (I know those procedures – mask, gown, gloves.) By Sunday, the doctors said she was doing much better. We had been blessed. The worst was over. She had simply won a 2 week stay in the pediatric ward isolation unit, but it was caught early and no damage was done.
The moral of the experience is, take time to love the kids, grand kids, parents, and spouses, because things can change real fast. In a moment anyone you love could be gone. I hate to put a legal slant on the experience, but for your sake, I will. Take time to get your estate planning basics in order.
Estate planning basics include your will, your trust, your durable power of attorney and living will. Obviously, if the granddaughter had died, it would have devastated us, especially grandpa. If the head of household dies, it is devastating to all of the family. The same emotional devastation we would have suffered with our granddaughter’s loss. But, with a head of household or even the spouse, there is a huge financial devastation. Having the estate planning basics in place can help your loved ones avoid the “worldly” devastation that comes with a death.
With our granddaughter’s situation, we had to rely on the professionals to complete the diagnosis and treatment. With your estate planning basics, you can be a lot more hands on. You can even do most of it yourself, if you are inclined to be a “do it yourself er.” My book Protecting Your Financial Future is specially designed to make this important legal topic easy to master. It is not a boring legal book, but a friendly guide.
With estate planning basics you’ve got to make your own diagnosis and get it done. Do not let the financial planners and attorneys take a “let’s wait and see” attitude. Life is uncertain and I can tell you from experience that having your estate planning basics in order will make all the difference. It is a duty of love you owe your family.