WBGL

This might be my most boring post but it might also be my most important.

The cover story for consumer reports this month is something I’ve been wanting to write about for a long time. The example it gave was identical to mine. Without going into details, I’m talking wills, beneficiaries, guardians, and life insurance. I’ve talked to too many people that were like us or even worse. It’s a new year so this is a perfect time to get your affairs in order…here is what I learned from my experience.

Lance never took the above topics seriously. In fact, ironically, we did our first will just a month before Lance was diagnosed…8 years after our first child was born. That’s 8 years too late. I forced the issue in 2010. I remember sitting in our living room, our lawyer came to our house, it was December 2010 and Lance sort of thought it was a joke. He was in many ways appeasing me. He just never thought the worst would happen. I do not say this to criticize Lance at all, more to set the tone of how casual one can be about things that can actually happen. Do this for your loved one…make the process as easy as possible on the one who is left behind. Be really conscious whom you choose to be the guardians of your children, the beneficiaries of your assets and update regularly!!! Grief on it’s own is enough. To deal with unpleasant issues on top of it, is just plain hard and can be completely preventable.

Since my experience, I have learned we are not alone. I have talked to tons of people who don’t have wills, life insurance or guardians. I can not emphasize this enough…besides being a major hassle, it strains relationships. We’ve all heard the stories. Wills, guardians and beneficiaries change all the time.  It’s super important to take these issues seriously. Consumer reports quoted 86% of people have not updated their wills and beneficiaries. That means that many of you reading are among those people.

In my case these things were never talked about once Lance was diagnosed. It was too painful. We were trying to stay positive. What message would I be giving Lance if on one hand I am his biggest cheerleader and on the other hand checking with him to make sure everything was in order? I just couldn’t do it. These topics are MUCH EASIER if you do them when you are both healthy. I did what I could do on my own making sure things were in order but some stones were left unturned and it was messy afterwards. Small oversights can have a big impact.

I also wanted to touch on life insurance policies. Figure out what your life costs and how much you reasonably could live on minus your spouse. Certain dollar amounts might seem like a lot more than the reality…especially with inflation. Talk to a financial advisor.

Also one last thing, have all assets: houses, cars, anything you own in both your names or in a living trust. You will avoid probate if you do this. That means a lot of time and money saved.

I have hesitated writing this blog because it brings up personal issues but I’ve also wanted to share my experience so people can do everything to prevent any hassles for the one left behind. I am redoing my will, going over it with a fine tooth comb and will update it every year if need be. I cannot stress these issues enough. It will save time, money, relationships, stress, arduous paper work and give you the time you need to focus on what’s really important should you ever be put in this position.

So in the words of my friends Kristin and Jon Hatch…”get ‘er done.”
Nancy
PS: Consumer Reports article:

http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/magazine/2013/02/7-money-stumbles-to-avoid/index.htm

PPS: A timely article in the NY Times from yet another young widow.

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/12/your-money/estate-planning/shell-tell-you-its-time-to-think-ahead.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1&

 

18 thoughts on “WBGL

  1. Thank you, Nancy. Marianna and I have been “meaning to get around to this” all last year. Your urgency underscores its importance.

  2. Nancygirl. Thank you for sharing your wisdom. Hard won as it has been. Oddly enough, I reached out to my FA and Insurance guy 2 weeks ago to talk about all of this and your post has now put a fire under my ass. Thank you mama. Love you! xox

  3. You are so right on, Nancy! Rob and I are all set, but my grandparents were not. My grandfather is in his last days at hospice at age 94 and my mom is having to figure out all of the details of what to do when he finally is at peace. She took my grandmother to the place where his ashes can be buried as a veteran, just a few weeks ago! It has been so stressful for my mom and grandmother and my mom has confirmed that she’ll figure stuff out so we don’t have to go through this. Thank you as always for your humility and wisdom!

  4. Thanks so much Nancy. I have something I wrote up myself filed with other papers but realize this is not enough. Do any of you out there have someone you can recommend for this? The last time I looked into it, I heard a Living Trust cost about $1,000. I’m hoping there is someone out there who charges less, especially for someone whose assets are minimal!

  5. Nancy, Lily is 13 & we still don’t have an official will! Just something I typed out, made Steve sign & stuck in our safe. Pathetic! He is how Lance was, never thinks anything will happen. I forwarded him your blog & lo & behold he is starting the process. You rock! Hope you & your beautiful kids are doing well. Xoxo Maddy

  6. Dear Nancy –

    I stumbled across your blog a few days ago and felt prompted to reach out to you. Last year during this time I was just starting an internship at Justin’s, where I first met Lance.
    I’m sure you’ve received an outpouring of thoughts, condolences, and support over the past several months, but I felt prompted to let you know that while I did not know Lance terribly well, and that my time spent with him was quite brief, I will always think of him as an amazing spirit. I remember him sharing stories with me about his traveling adventures (both abroad and domestic) while also encouraging me to quit my sugar addiction, seek as many thrills as possible, and be content in the uncertainty that is life. Although he was sick, his love of life and adventure never ceased, something that he engrained in me, even if in passing.
    Lance was the type of person that you aspired to be. His accomplishments – which were many – were boast-worthy, but Lance wasn’t that type. And although he was the boss, he was always grateful for the work that the interns did, never forgetting to say “thank you” as we packed up samples in the warehouse.
    I am so happy that I found your blog, and that I was able to see another side to Lance through his posts here, where he wrote about his love for his two children and his love for you. Out of all of the things I remember, one of the most vivid was the photo he had of the two of you on his desk, looking very youthful, very happy, and very much in love.

    I hope this note finds you in a place of peace and contentment, Nancy. Sending positive vibes your way…

    Sincerely,

    Meredith

  7. Nancy,
    You post was so timely! We have started this process several times, but never completed it- so many tough questions to answer- and to put into writing about the worst case scenario is so hard- so it jus hasn’t happened! Since reading your post, we’ve contacted our lawyer and have an appt. set up to GET ‘ER DONE!
    Thank you for the push we needed. I feel embarrassed that we have not done this before. Our boys are 9 and 6! It’s time.
    Thank you to you and thank you to LANCE.
    Loving you both,
    Kelly

  8. Great advice, Nancy! And definitely not boring. It’s never too late to set up a Living Trust, but do not delay, for all the reasons that Nancy already mentioned. A Living Trust may seem expensive, and it’s definitely not cheap, but it’s all front loaded with filing fees, documentation, lawyer costs, etc. Once the Trust is established however, annual maintenance and revisions are nominal.

    Thank you Nancy, for bringing awareness to such an important and overlooked necessity!

    Much love, Andy

  9. Hi Nancy,

    Whenever I think of Lance, I think of you and this blog. How are you? How are your kids coping lately?

    Even though we’ve never met, sending care and sending warm thoughts your way.

    Katherine

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