If you’d hit her in the passenger door, you probably would have killed her, ” the officer told me as I looked over the crumpled front of my mini-van. I was a bit shaken, but relieved. It could have been so much worse, especially for ‘Marge’.
That February day began like any other day for ‘Marge’, an elderly lady who was just driving a few blocks from her home to the local mall. She probably had her mind on the things she wanted to purchase and didn’t realize she had turned across traffic in front of me without looking. I had just enough time to swerve slightly. Thankfully, I crashed into her front quarter-panel, instead of T-boning into passenger side door.
Fortunately ‘Marge’ only received only a fractured sternum from the collision, but in her fragile state it would take weeks for her to heal. Even though the accident was her fault, and I had only suffered a few sore muscles and inconvenience as a result, it still left me shaken.
The whole incident had taken only seconds to occur. One moment I was running a lunch-time errand, the next moment my air bag was exploding and tires were screeching. What if ‘Marge’ had been traveling faster or I hadn’t swerved? What if she had hit me head-on? The results could have been devastating for both us and for our families.
I’m the husband of a wonderful woman and proud father of four young children. My mind flashed to what life would be like for them should something happen to me. I was comforted knowing that even though such an event would be very difficult for them, it wouldn’t have to be financially devastating. We’d already put an estate plan in place, including life insurance to adequately provide for my family in my absence. That February day was a personal and stark reminder of the extreme importance of such planning.
As a Certified Financial Planner, I’ve seen the effects that failing to plan has had on those left behind. I’ve seen a wife and her children, after 30 years of marriage, be forced to move in with her parents and rely on them financially because her husband died unexpectedly in his sleep. They always thought they had plenty of time to plan.
I’ve talked with children who have had their careers and family life put on hold while they had to settle the estate of a parent who put off taking care of business. I’ve seen families torn apart, fighting over the inheritance, because their parents never made sure their wishes were known and would be carried out.
There have been family farms and businesses unnecessarily lost because of onerous estate taxes. Thousands and thousands of dollars that Dad thought would go to the kids went to Uncle Sam instead. And why? Because Dad didn’t want to spend the one or two thousand dollars it would take to put the right estate plan in place. He was penny-wise and pound-foolish.
Did you know that 70% of Americans fail to do any estate planning? Are you one of them? If so, why? Unless you have discovered the Fountain of Youth, there is simply no excuse for not planning for the settlement of your estate. Do you want to leave your loved ones in a mess? Do you want your wife to struggle through a complicated and emotional probate process? Do you want your kids fighting tooth and nail over what you leave behind?
Getting your affairs in order doesn’t have to be difficult. And you don’t have to ‘get everything together’ in order to do it. Certified Financial Planners like myself can walk you through the process and come up with a plan that will be simple, cost-effective and ensure that your wishes are carried out. An attorney can then draft the necessary documents.
The point is, there is simply no excuse for not putting your affairs in order. Even if you have documents in place, make sure they are current. Don’t put if off any longer. Like ‘Marge’ found out, you never know when your future will take an unexpected turn.
If you have questions about this or any other financial topic, I want to hear from you. You can reach me online at http://www.guardingyourwealth.com or toll-free at 1-877-827-1463.
Mr. Voudrie is a Certified Financial Planner and President of Legacy Planning Group, Inc. , a Private Wealth Management Firm in Johnson City, TN.
Nationally-syndicated financial columnist and Certified Financial Planner® Jeffrey Voudrie provides personal, in-depth money management services and advice to select private clients throughout the USA. He’ll answer your financial question – FREE at http://www.guardingyourwealth.com