Recently I had a (totally unnecessary!) personal reminder of just exactly why we all need estate plans. You see, accidents happen, even to members of estate planning lawyers’ families.
My mother, my young children’s loving grandmother, was suddenly struck by a car while walking across the street. She is fortunate to be alive, but suffered badly crushed bones in her foot necessitating (so far): a trip to the emergency room via ambulance, a cast, wheelchairs (one for the house and one for transport via car), walkers (one for upstairs and one for downstairs), likely surgery, and no doubt a very long road to recovery.
My normally vivacious, energetic, totally self-sufficient mother is now wheelchair bound (no more running around the yard playing with her grandchildren this summer at least), in constant pain, very unhappy, and relying on lots of necessary assistance. Her house now presents serious logistical challenges (namely, stairs). And my husband and I are working on the logistical challenge of formulating a Plan B for when I go into labor next month with Baby Girl #3 now that Grandma can’t take care of the baby’s big sisters as planned!
I share this as a cautionary tale in the hopes that you will make sure you and your loved ones have your affairs in order, properly updated to reflect your current situations, and easily accessible in the event of an accident, which can happen, as it did to my poor mother, in the blink of an eye.
When we create an estate plan we are not merely preparing for the distribution of our earthly belongings upon our deaths. We are also very much preparing for precisely the sort of temporary incapacities that can arise when accidents happen. It is through our estate plan that we make clear our medical wishes and ease access to necessary medical records. We also help ensure the efficient, continued management of our financial affairs (e.g. paying our bills) while we remain very much alive, but unable to do so ourselves.
Do you have these critical legal instruments in place now? Do your loved ones? Do you know where they are and how to access them in an emergency? There’s no time like the present!