“What you resist, persists.” – Carl Jung
I have a confession to make… I am married for 6 years, my husband and I have a 3-1/2 year old daughter, we own 2 homes, and have NO will or estate plan in place. I don’t really know how we got here, just that we are here, and this is not an acceptable place to be.
I think it started with a difference in philosophy, ingrained in us since we were children. My father has been planning for death as long as I can remember. I have a very distinct memory of one of my earliest Father-Daughter discussions which was regarding a savings account he had opened for me. He told me that as a part of this account, the bank matched the deposits dollar for dollar in the form of life insurance. He informed me that he had put enough money in there so that if I died, when combined with the life insurance, he would have enough money to bury me. I don’t remember thinking this as being morbid, just as sound financial and future planning. Once I was old enough to be brought further into the fold, I have since been schooled at every family event about my parents will, wishes, and documents so that when they are gone, I can handle the estate.
My husband, on the other hand, has never had a serious discussion with his parents about their estate planning. What is such an openly discussed topic in my home seems to have been taboo in his. I find this a bit shocking considering the pain that his family endured when his Grandmother died suddenly, leaving her estate to her second husband. When he passed, everything went to his children, leaving my husband’s Mother and Aunt to scrape and fight for valuables and mementos that had been in their family for years (I have pieced this together from comments made at family gatherings whenever the subject of Nonna and her husband come up). And now, even in the face of his Mother’s terminal illness, it took months for the family to discuss her wishes and the estate, and I think only then because of prodding from me.
Like most couples, my husband and I have had hypothetical talks about what we would want when “it” happens. “It” just seems so far away. We are healthy, we are young, and we have our whole lives ahead of us… right? What’s the rush? It’s expensive. It’s too much work. The decisions are too hard… what to leave to whom, who should care for our child, what sort of legacy do we want to leave behind? These are the excuses we make, over and over again, to put off the planning. But then, Life intervened.
It started with a light tap on the shoulder; an acute illness that didn’t quite clear up as it quickly as it should have. Then life spoke a little louder; this time in the form of a rear-ending on a busy interstate by two other automobiles during rush hour, an ambulance ride to the hospital, and nearly a year of physical therapy to recover. And now it is screaming in my face through the steady decline of a parent from a horrible terminal illness which is making me realize that 63 is not so far from 36 and that life is precious, and unpredictable, and we better make some plans NOW! So, now there are no more excuses. We made the call, and our journey has begun…