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Giving the Gift of Pre-Planning Thumbnail

Giving the Gift of Pre-Planning

In our last post, we shared some thoughts on how to cope with financial commitments if you've been recently widowed. Because grief and wealth management don't mix, the main theme is, less is more. That is, the fewer big financial changes you try to take on right away, the better.

Today, let's explore a closely related topic: pre-planning. As we proposed in our last post: "Your wills, trusts, powers of attorney, living wills (advance directives) and pre-planned funeral arrangements may be among the most loving gifts you can give one another as a couple."

It can be an enormous comfort to the loved ones you leave behind if you've already arranged many of the essential logistics well in advance. Few would argue with the logic of sparing your family from having to make the stressful journey by themselves. And yet, in my experience, many families put off pre-planning, despite best intentions.

Believe me, I get that. Recently my wife and I were discussing our own plans, and we discovered we had different opinions on where we wanted to be buried. Surprise! Somehow, it wasn't a subject that had come up in quite a while.

You would think I'd know better. I'm not only a professional financial advisor who helps other families engage in just these sorts of conversations, I also volunteer for Clark County's County-Wide Chaplaincy.

When the papers report something like, "next of kin have been notified," have you ever wondered who fulfills that role? At least here in Clark County, that's me and my fellow volunteer chaplains. Each Monday, I'm on call to respond to fatal emergencies – which places the experience as among the toughest and most rewarding in my life. We enable professional first responders to focus on the crisis at hand, while ensuring families receive emotional and spiritual support during the next few hours of their lives.

Sometimes, I encounter families with funeral arrangements and estate plans at least partially in place and, better yet, at least partially paid for. When they are, I find it relieves an incredible amount of the burden that otherwise occurs when an emergency hits a family blindside. In fact, whenever a family loses a loved one, making the necessary final arrangements becomes significantly easier when plans already are in place.

That said, I've found that pre-plans are pretty rare. And even once they exist, it's worth periodically revisiting them. As I touched on above, even my own wife and I apparently have some additional planning to complete.

Along a related theme, if one of you tends to take the lead with your family's financial plans, the small act of ensuring both of you know how to be in touch with your financial support team can be enormously comforting during a crisis. Let's face it, with women statistically expected to live longer than us men, this is another act of advance planning best not overlooked or delayed.

I don't know how successful I can be at ensuring every family has its funeral, estate and financial plans in order sooner than later. But if today's post spurs you into converting this critical "should do" into a "did do," I'll feel I've done a good deed. As always, holler if we can help.