I had a real life brush with “Estate Planning” recently when I had some minor surgery performed. One of the questions that came up during registration was “Have you contracted any hospital borne infections in the last 12 months?” That question was almost as scary as the impending surgery! I hadn’t, but I’m guessing that if they’re asking it’s a problem in the medical community. In fact, I just Googled “hospital borne infections” and got 711,000 hits. Who knew that going to the hospital could be treacherous? That was just the first part of what turned into a series of scary questions.
They also asked for a copy of my Advance Medical Directives / Living Will. This was the scariest moment of my whole surgery experience. I actually remembered to bring that document into the hospital with me. What I failed to do, though, was update my document recently. It’s probably 10-15 years old. A lot has happened in my life since the time it was drafted. Some of my views of life & life sustaining medical procedures have changed due to life experience and seeing family members & friends wrestle with difficult life & death decisions. I also am a father of 3 kids, so my view can no longer be just about me, but about my kids too. And, probably the most important change is that I am wrapping up a very long divorce process shortly and my soon-to-be-ex-wife is listed as the person (so said the person at the registration desk & I read it myself afterward) in charge of making life & death decisions for me. Hmmmmmmm………Is that the wisest choice for me right now??? When I realized that, I think I became more afraid of that than the actual surgery! I know she would do the right thing, but those little “loose ends” that need to be tied up aren’t tied up yet. Which brings me to my point…
Here I am, a guy who talks about financial issues all day long, and I still have some items on my “To Do” list when it comes to my financial life. If I haven’t gotten my estate planning documents revised, maybe I’m not alone. I know open enrollment season is right around the corner. You can start now, with maybe a deadline of open enrollment’s end, and take this as a wake-up call to get YOUR estate plan in order. Check your wills to see that everyone named to a position of authority is still alive, competent and willing to serve in that capacity. Make sure the people in charge of making medical decisions for you are still the right person for you! (Note to self – that goes on the Must Do list ASAP). When open enrollment comes around, make sure your beneficiaries are in line with your goals. This is a great time to take advantage of MY mistakes (isn’t the ability to learn from other people’s mistakes a sign of intelligence?) and improve your personal situation.
I promise that if you do all of these things, I will too…….