I’ll never forget the first time my wife and I met with our lawyer to create our estate plans.
Our lawyer had the paperwork spread out on a conference table. He explained what each form covered. There was a durable power of attorney for finances, a property worksheet, a form for final arrangements, a living trust, a healthcare directive …
I heard my wife take a gulp and looked over to see her serious face. Not a pleasant moment. “It’s okay. I know it’s tough to think about, but we need to do this. Besides,” I said with a grin, “I’m planning to live for a long, long time!”
She looked up and replied, “When we said ‘‘’til death do us part,” I didn’t really think about what that meant. But now that we’re doing this, it’s hitting home. And it’s making me think all over again about why I married you. I wouldn’t want to go through this with anyone else.”
We were there for two hours planning for our mortality. Our lawyer guided us through tough decisions: When do you pull the plug if a partner is terminally ill? What happens if we both die in an accident at the same time? Who do we trust to be an executor? It was, in many ways, a grim task, and I could see why so many people put off creating their estate plans.
But as we left, a funny thing happened: our moods lifted. We held hands as we walked out of the office. On the way home, we stopped for ice cream in Skippack, PA, and then went for a walk in Valley Forge Park, laughing at the antics of the squirrels scurrying over the ground and racing up the trees.
“It’s like we’re on a date,” she said.
“We are,” I answered, “and I plan to have many, many more with you.” Since then, we’ve moved to Tampa, and watch the dolphins jumping in the waves instead.
In this last issue of the year, I simply wanted to remind you that by asking for planned gifts and reminding people to make estate plans, you are giving people like my wife and me a priceless gift. Prompting people to consider their mortality is not easy, but these conversations are deep and important. Everyone needs to create an estate plan.
This post is the first in a series about my personal journey. Perhaps I am getting too personal about myself, but it is something I need to write about. Stay tuned.
Happy holidays, and keep up the good work!