What Will Be Your Legacy?
My husband often speaks of the day his father passed away and how he noticed that at the moment of his passing, nothing seemed to change. There was a basketball game on TV and no one paused for a moment of silence. Cars and trucks were driving by his parents’ home and not one of them stopped or paused to recognize his father’s passing. He says that the moral of his story is that life goes on and in reality, very few people care that you died. That may be brutally honest, but it is a fact we must all face.
Those who do care and will miss us and will be affected by our loss are our families. It is important to think ahead and think of the needs of our loved ones in order to leave a positive and meaningful legacy to those who count on us.
We buy life insurance because we don’t want to leave our families with debt. Unfortunately, far too often the only life insurance some people have is what is offered by their employer, and that simply may not be enough. It may only cover the funeral but not the bills that are left behind.
It is critically important that you do a periodic checkup of your insurance policies to make sure you have sufficient coverage for your family. You should also check your list of beneficiaries on each policy to see that they are up to date and correct. Lastly, make sure your policies are located where you and your loved ones can find them. As a matter of practice, you might want to review them each tax season since you will be reviewing documentation and paperwork anyway.
Most people see the need for making preparations for when they die,but few seem to make preparations for if they live. As important as preparation is, we know that sometimes LIFE can change our situation very quickly and we find ourselves facing a crisis. For those of us who are Baby Boomers, as our parents age we too can sometimes find ourselves in a caregiving crisis, if one of them suddenly gets sick or is diagnosed with cancer or some other critical health issue. This can send us into a crisis faced with caregiving situations and needs that we may not be prepared for.
People are living longer today and that means that the possibility of long term care is greater than it used to be. Long term care insurance is a possible option for some people, but investigate it before making a decision to purchase it. Living longer is great, but it carries its own issues that may have to be dealt with like the possibility of having to go into rehab or nursing home care for a long period of time. None of us likes to think of this eventuality, but our families may not have the skills or equipment needed to help us recover properly.
What is the advantage of going through this process before the need arises? One of my favorite phrases is Before the Stress Begins. When a crisis in life comes, it affects our decision making process. This process is affected by the most recent information we have which is clouded by the crisis that surrounds us. Therefore, the more things we can get done ahead of time, the less stressful the decision making process becomes.
Most men and women love their families and want them to be happy, healthy and successful. They work hard to try to fulfill these objectives. Unfortunately, that legacy can be tarnished by a simple act of procrastination. Putting off making decisions about aging and end of life will only transfer the stress from your arena to that of your family and it will tarnish a legacy you have worked hard to build.
There was a client of mine who wanted to sit down with her family and go over some aging and end of life decisions she had made. She wanted to do it while she was still healthy and in a right frame of mind. But every time she brought the subject up, her family started asking her if she was sick or dying. She became very frustrated with them and came to me for assistance. Together we pulled together the documentation she needed and we built a very good relationship because of the time we spent together. She felt that a burden had been lifted from her shoulders because her family would not have to stress out about what she wanted in the event she could not speak for herself. She loved her family enough to keep her legacy intact.
So, what will your legacy be? Will you be remembered as one who cared enough to make aging and end of life decisions Before the Stress Begins, or will you leave your family in tears with a tarnished legacy?