making estate planning a priority

Photo credit @ Lauren Denise Photography

Recently, I updated my estate plans. I realize many find estate planning to be morbid. A friend even asked, “Why would I want to plan for my death or something bad to happen?” Well, my short answer to that question is simple, I had these documents drafted for my child and family. I have always felt my job as a mother, above all else, is to protect and take care of my child. One huge way I can protect and take care of my baby is by making sure things are taken care of for whatever life has in store for me, whether that be tomorrow or 60 years from now. Several things in my life have taught me the importance of being prepared for unfortunate circumstances; those things stayed with me through the process of making such plans.

I worked in the hhealthcarefield for a number of years. In working in this field, I witnessed on a routine basis the need for a person’s health care wishes to be put in writing. It was sad to witness how frequent a family tore one another apart debating, disagreeing, and arguing about what decisions to make over a loved one. At a time when a family needed one another for support and comfort, they were often going at each other’s throats. Now, many of these families and individuals where wonderful people. However, grief and stress brings out emotions and actions in people they are (more often than not) unable to control, process, or even deal with. I saw it as a blessing when a patient had their wishes laid out in legal writing for their family. A patient’s family didn’t always like or agree with a patients wishes, but when it’s in la egal format it saves that family from ripping each other apart trying to make such impossible life choices.

On a personal note, I have also had family members who have been so unprepared for life’s surprises; it was nothing short of a chaotic mess (which took months and months to sort out necessary details) when something would happen. I also recall in those situations how difficult it was for the elders around me to make a decision when they were in this half frozen state of mind, not knowing how to process and deal with the choices in front of them. I do not wish to place such burdens on my child or family someday. It is my hope I will be able to alleviate some of the stress that would come with an unfortunate change in my health.

T he loss of loved ones in my own life has also taught me to be prepared. I have had family members who have been so prepared they had their funeral songs picked out. In those situations, it was a comfort knowing we could give that special person what they truly wanted. It made an emotional time less stressful for my family having everything in place, making it easier to celebrate the life and love of the person we had lost. On the contrary, I’ve also had family members so unprepared it left much of my family weighted with the burden of cleaning up the mess.

B ut, the biggest reason (by far) for getting my affairs in order is, my child. She is very young. It was legally advised to me prior to her birth to have such plans in place. Additionally, it was made clear the importance of reviewing such plans for any necessary modifications or changes every 3-5 years with consideration to children. It was also made clear to make any necessary modifications within those years if I should marry or have more children. I don’t wake up in the morning thinking I am going to die today. No one thinks of dying young. However, if something should happen to me I want to make sure I can protect my child and the assets needed to support and raise her if I can no longer do that myself. Without taking the time to make such plans, a court would be the one intervening and making such choices about my child. I certainly do NOT trust the court to decide what’s in the best interest of my child, especially when I have the ability to lay out those decisions for her myself.

I n making such plans, I had a new Will drafted. My Will includes my first and second choices of guardians for my child, those choices being of different age categories. It includes a trust for my child with first and secondary executors of such trust; as well as, how said trust will operate. I had a new Power of Attorney (POA) for Health Care and Finance drafted. I had the POAs set up so the are active currently. I had first and secondary choices of individuals who are my POAs laid out; again, those choices being of different age categories. I laid out my Health Care wishes, what I wanted as far as extraordinary measures, and how I wanted my family to proceed if something should happen to me.

The attorney drafting my documents was surprised at my ability to look at such decisions with a practical and rational approach. He commented it was unlike a person of my age to be so level headed about subjects of this nature, I noted my time working in the health care field had greatly contributed to such thinking. However, admittedly, when reviewing such documents for final signature, I had an emotional moment actually seeing such wishes in writing. These aren’t easy decisions to make. They are’t fun topics to cover. I do take comfort in knowing I can modify and change these documents at any point in my life as I evolve as an individual. But still, it can really suck being an adult some days.

No one wishes or hopes for unfortunate circumstances to happen in life. However, if they should happen I would certainly choose to be prepared rather than unprepared and leave my family burdened in the process. The planning itself is fairly easy. I met with an attorney for less than an hour, my baby-cakes came with and colored pictures during the meeting. The attorney had the documents drafted and ready for review by the end of that very day. All I had to do after was review the documents to make sure everything was correct, and then sign and notarize. Simple and easy, well worth the hour out of my day.

I have made the choice (even at my younger age) to be proactive and plan for life, and to continue to do so throughout my future. I believe making my estate planning a priority is one more way I can make my child a priority. And prioritizing my child is one of my many #mommymissions 😉

Look details for mommy: Banana Republic dress  |  Gap trench (similar style here, here, and here)  |  Kate Spade handbag (similar styles here, here, and here)  |  navy suede pumps (similar style here)  |  Marc Jacobs watch (similar style here, here, and here)  |  Kate Spade earrings (additional link here)  |

Look details for baby-cakes: Ralph Lauren dress (additional link here and here)  | Zara sweater (similar styles here, here, and here)  | Janie and Jack shoes (similar styles here, here, and here) |

I put this dress on and it fit like a glove, it is truly a well made piece of clothing. A large majority of the items in my closet need altered before wearing, this dress needed nothing. It was flattering, tailored, and I felt great in it! And, who doesn’t love to wear something they feel great in and boosts their confidence!? I choose to keep the accessories simply and classic to highlight the dress.

Happy Planning (and shopping 😉 )!

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