“All go to the same place; all come from dust, and to dust all return.” Ecclesiastes 3:20
Ash Wednesday is a good reminder of our mortality, a part of life Americans tend to put off considering for a long time.
As an estate planning / probate attorney, I’ve experienced the same thing with my clients. Often when someone comes to me for a comprehensive estate plan, they have to face some tough questions about their own death and what will happen to them on their deathbed, and what will happen to all the things they can’t take into the afterlife. Sometimes this brings about unpleasant memories of loved ones who have passed already, and sometimes fears about death itself.
But remembering our mortality is important, because it allows to make ourselves and our lives into a gift, for future generations. Planning out a will, living trust, advanced care directive, power of attorney for health care, pourover trust, etc. accepts the reality, as Jim Morrison once said, that “none of us gets out alive.” And once we have accepted this reality, an estate plan is an act of love, to strategically plan out how to preserve your assets, how to make them truly effective even after you are no longer here to direct their use.
It also prepares us for the inevitable conclusion of our lives, by setting up everything well in advance, so we can sit back and enjoy the rest of our lives without having to even think about who will take care of the kids, who will pay the taxes on the house, who will I trust with any important life-or-death medical decisions. All too often, these choices are made by the backup legal code, which can be expensive, exhausting, and painful for many families dealing with it.
I see it as a wonderful act of charity when my clients sit down to make these choices now, to discuss the roles for their children in advance, to dictate the terms of their passing from this earthly realm while they still have the ability to do so. I also breathe a sigh of relief because I know that their kids probably won’t be coming back in a couple years with an ugly 2-year probate battle that tears their family apart.
Finally, I smile because when I see clients who have contemplated their own mortality and found peace, it helps me to find peace in my own.
DISCLAIMER: Please do not prepare your own documents / filings after reading this blog, without consulting an attorney first about your specific situation. I make no representations or guarantees here as to the applicability of any claim in your specific situation. This blog is ADVERTISING MATERIAL only, and should not be relied upon as legal advice, especially if you are not an Illinois resident. Please contact me if you have a legal question or concern, as no attorney-client agreement will exist between myself and any readers of this blog unless it is signed in writing.