Friday, October 23, 2009

Quality Time or Mess & Stress?

How do you make Quality Time out of your Final Moments?

I was sitting in my client’s living room and we were laying out the map to start planning his estate. Legal documents need to be signed, insurance needs to be set up, and most of all, basic values need to be clarified.

In this case, I didn’t need to remind him how so many people procrastinate making these decisions and clarifying their values. He told me a story himself that made the point.

He had recently been at the funeral of his friend’s mother. She had been on her deathbed when the family realized that she hadn’t left a living will. The doctor was asking the family for a decision, and soon, about how long to maintain her life artificially. They had to make that difficult decision right there. Next, they realized that she had never said what she wanted done with her remains. They started asking her, and her mute reaction at the mention of cremation led to their decision to have her buried. That was just the beginning. Dealing with the estate after she died became messy too.

To illustrate the point of how common this is, I met two people at a workshop the very next day and when I mentioned this story they both quickly recited similar tales from their own family. Their frustration at the chaos and hurt feelings and wasted time was still palpable. One family was still arguing over who was responsible for what. Another saw the breadwinner pass away and leave the spouse, who needs assistance, without long term care insurance.

Why not make even your last moments quality time? Instead of the pressure to make difficult decisions, leave your heirs with clearly written wishes and directions. In fact, be creative, and write in your will and fund with your life insurance a big family reunion in your honor to celebrate your life! Or set up a trust for your heirs and fund their education. Or leave a gift to a charity that is close to your heart. And spend your last moments with your family without the stress of having to get all these decisions made.

Take some time, before it is too late, to clarify your values, what you stand for, and then pass on to your heirs some of who you are as well as what you accumulated.

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