About eight years ago, I got the unexpected and unfortunate phone call from my brother telling me that he had received the diagnosis of Stage IV Lung Cancer. As thoughts raced through my head and I was trying to listen to him on the phone, I realized that he was calling desperately asking me for help. I adored my brother Jon and would do almost anything for him, but he was not a man of details. He lived life day by day even though he had three children to take care of and make sure that their futures were secure. My brother quickly told me that he had neglected to do anything to prepare for such a situation. He hadn’t finalized the divorce from his ex- of six years nor had he told his current girlfriend that he wasn’t officially divorced. On top of that news, he also told me that he hadn’t met with an estate attorney to prepare power of attorney papers, a medical directive, or a will or a trust. He asked if I could fly out to help him. Of course, I said yes. So with a computer in hand, I headed out from Minneapolis to North Carolina. I was met by his girlfriend at the airport. I spent the next seven days by his side in the hospital taking care of him and his girlfriend. While sitting in the hospital all day I got a divorce attorney to take care of the divorce. I then grabbed my computer and the next several days I drafted up, to the best of my abilities, the rest of the documents. I used my mom’s as a starting point and looked up North Carolina laws to see what their stipulations were. I had to find a notary in the hospital and find a time when my brother was cognizant enough to be able to sign the documents that I had drafted. Sadly enough, shortly after that, he died.
When I came home from North Carolina, I was determined to not leave my loved ones in that situation. My investor I was working with suggested I meet with the Stier Law Firm. I went and met with them for a consultation. I knew the moment I walked into their office that this was the firm I was going to go with to do my estate planning. They were welcoming and during the first meeting they listened to what my individual needs were and made their recommendations. At that time, I had them develop a Power of Attorney, Medical Directive and a Will. It was comforting to know that those forms were now complete for my family.
Recently, I decided that I needed to do a review of my documents so I went back in and met with them again. We talked about where I was at now in my career and life and we decided to change from a Will to a Trust. We also made some minor adjustments on some of the other forms. I was quite pleased with the service I received from them and felt comfortable with the changes we made.
Then I went off to Maui for my annual summer pilgrimage where I get together with several friends for a reconnect. Well, this year one of our dear friends had a massive heart attack on the beach while he was surfing. Like my brother, we quickly discovered that he also did not have any of his estate planning completed. Upon arriving at the hospital, the staff started asking us if we knew what his medical directives were or if he had any paperwork. They wanted to know if his paperwork was in order before his triple bypass surgery. Since we were so far away from his family and his home this seemed even more urgent. I was again reminded of how life’s complicated situations can even become more complicated with the lack of planning.
I just came home from a weekend up north where I was the medical directive and executor of my aunt’s estate. Her estate will be an easy estate for me to settle. She had everything in place for her loved ones to make sure they did what she would have wanted them to do. We also had had many conversations over the last ten years of what she did and did not want.
So I have seen what the planning and choosing to plan your estate allows your loved ones to do. It allows them to honor their wishes and not burden them. I have also seen what the lack of estate planning does to the caregivers and the person. It robs you from your ability to be fully present in the care or the loss of your loved one. Your energies have to be split between trying to figure out what they would have wanted or what would be the best for them and also dealing with your own loss.
Do your family or your loved ones a favor, give Stier Law Firm a call. Preplanning your estate and your medical care is a gift to give to yourself and to your family.