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It happened...more than once

Posted 2/13/2017

Since starting my own practise in September 2015, I have prepared several estate planning documents with a variety of clients. While practising with a former firm, I also met with many clients and prepared numerous estate planning documents. At the former firm, I did not experience first-hand the passing of an estate planning client. Well, I have to say, that changed in the fall of 2016.

In August 2016, I was contacted by new clients who were interested in having their estate planning documents prepared. After discussing matters, I was informed that they were in a rush to have the documents completed. I was told that the wife was having health concerns and she was set to have surgery the following week. I met them on short notice to take their instructions for the documents. I quickly drafted the documents and met them within a few days to sign. We were able to get everything done and in place before the wife had her surgery. Approximately 2 months later, I received a phone call from the husband. He explained that his wife had passed away a few weeks prior. I was heartbroken to hear of his loss. He proceeded to tell me how thankful he was for what I done for them: meeting them and preparing the documents on such short notice. He explained that having the documents in place made the situation easier for them. It was one less thing they had to worry about. He thanked me profusely. It was a very heartfelt conversation.

Then, in the fall of 2016, I was contacted by other new estate planning clients. I was informed that the husband was having some health issues. They were not in an extreme rush. I met with them to sign all the documents a few weeks after taking instructions from them. Approximately one month after our signing appointment, the wife contacted me and advised me that her husband had passed away somewhat unexpectedly. Once again, I felt heartbroken and so sorry for the wife. However, amidst the pain and anguish, it was definitely positive that we had signed the documents in time.

In early 2017, another new client contacted me to update her Will, due to a recent divorce. She previously did not have a Power of Attorney or Personal Directive in place. She insisted on having those documents prepared at the same time as the update to her Will. Of course, I obliged, since I strongly recommend having all 3 documents in place. The client understood the importance of having, not only the Will, but also the Power of Attorney and Personal Directive. She had personal experience dealing with a family member who became incapacitated without a Power of Attorney or Personal Directive. She explained to me the hastle, the high legal fees, and the length of time it took to get Trusteeship and Guardianship Orders. She did not want her loved ones to go through the same struggle that she had experienced to help her family member.

There are 2 things in life that are certain: death and taxes. I am not able to assist with the latter, as I do not practice in the area of tax law. However, I can help with the former by preparing your estate planning documents. Ensuring that these documents are in place before it’s too late will make it easier on your family upon your death or your incapacity. It will also be less costly and less time consuming.

For quite some time, I have known of the importance of having estate planning documents in place. However, these experiences added a more personal and real world touch. I previously only understood the “textbook land” importance of the documents. It took these, and other, personal experiences to understand the “real life” importance of the documents.

I wanted to share these specific stories to demonstrate that these types of situations can happen to anyone. I urge you to have the documents prepared before it’s too late. Don’t wait until you personally experience a situation where you finally realize the importance of having a Will, Power of Attorney, and Personal Directive. Don’t wait until illness falls upon you or a family member. As a trustworthy lawyer who has heard the horror stories, don’t keep putting this to the bottom or your “to-do” list. GET IT DONE! This blog post is just in time for Valentine’s Day: think of your loved ones and plan ahead for their sake.

Yours truly,

Crystal Schening