In this morning's New York Times, there's a poignant article from a doctor about taking care of planning your affairs now. It includes the famous Chinese proverb,
"The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now."
The article goes on to recount how this doctor's friend was rushed into an Emergency Room in a Boston hospital, not having made any plans for what she wanted her medical treatment to look like, or about her end-of-life wishes. This is all too common a reality in the midst of this pandemic.
Nearly 2 out of every 3 Americans do not have any legal plans in place in case they are unable to communicate their medical wishes, or if they pass away.
This week I've been dealing with this issue with my current clients and new clients alike. The madness associated with the coronavirus pandemic has brought new challenges to the front, and forced people to get serious in addressing their plans. Honestly, it's been a welcome reprieve for me to be able to put people's minds at ease and help them check this task off their to-do lists.
Along with that, a lot of my new clients are curious about how I decided to become an estate planning lawyer. The real story, one I've been more open about lately, is that I got started doing this because of my Dad. Most people knew him as Tony or Coach Marrone. He could usually be found roaming the sidelines of a youth sporting event, barking instructions at his team, or on Sundays in his reserved pew at the front of our church. He was a very outspoken, social person. Most of the time that was the best part about him, but it also made him a complicated person, one who I really never got to know in the way an adult child knows his father. He died prematurely at age 49. At the time, I was a senior in college with two younger brothers and a stay-at-home mom.
I recall specifically the pain we went through as we tried to sort through his affairs. He, like so many others, had not done an ounce of planning. Thankfully he had some life insurance in place, but as a family we were ill-prepared to deal with the fallout of his passing. It was enough of an emotional nightmare dealing with his death, but that pain was made 10x worse because we had to scramble to get his estate in order.
Even though I didn't know it or didn't address it at the time, I started practicing in this area to help other families like mine, going through an incredibly difficult time, and wanting to make their lives easier during that process.
And no, doing your Will won't prevent the heartbreak families suffer when a loved one passes away, but it makes what comes next a little easier.
Last week we introduced Will Builder, Powered by The Marrone Law Firm, our simple, secure online platform for writing your Will and getting it signed and made official. The response has been overwhelming, and we wanted to say thank you to everyone who has reached out and tested our new system. If you haven't had a chance to check it out yet, click here now.
Planning ahead for the worst-case scenarios will provide a somber yet comforting peace of mind in these uncertain times. My goal is to make planning easier, so easy maybe Coach Marrone would have done it.