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What does a Snowstorm have to do with Estate Planning?

The snows and no-snows of March set me to thinking about disruption.  When I was a kid, waking up to a foot of snow was one of the most joyful events of my life – especially if it happened on school day.  As an adult, I have the opposite reaction.  In fact when I looked out the window on March 22nd and saw that the meteorologists’ prediction of a huge overnight snowfall was a complete bust, I was filled with delight.  In thinking about my two-selves’ different reactions to snow, I came to the conclusion that it is all about disruption.  As a kid, I loved unexpected disruptions – a snow day, a fire drill, a fight at recess.  As adults we are not so fond of disruptions – some people even dislike holidays!  In many ways, undertaking estate planning is about planning to minimize disruption when the unexpected happens.  The events that we are planning for when we create an estate plan are sickness and death.  If you, your spouse, your parent or your grandparent, gets sick or has an accident and is incapacitated as a result, that is a very disruptive event not only to person who is incapacitated but also to family members who are caring for the ill person.  Decisions about health care will need to be made, bills will need to be paid, maybe the house will need to be sold.  These added tasks are disruptive to the lives of the people who must take them on, but it is even worse if the incapacitated person does not have a Health Care Proxy and Durable Power of Attorney that legally authorize people to make health care decisions, pay bills, deal with real estate, file tax returns, etc.  If no such documents exist, then family members are forced to petition the probate court for guardianship and/or conservatorship in order to obtain the legal authority to make decisions and take action.  Believe you me, there is nothing quite so disruptive as having to deal with the probate courts – not to mention the expense involved in any court proceeding.  Similarly, if someone dies without a Will or Trust, the cost, time and aggravation of settling the estate are multiplied – more disruption!  You can reduce the disruption caused by incapacity and death by getting your affairs in order and creating (or updating, if it’s been a while) an estate plan.  As to the next snow storm….my advice, flee to Florida!

March, 2018

© 2018 Samuel, Sayward & Baler LLC