By Shawndi Purselley, CFP®, CDFA®, Owner and Co-Founder, Wealth Advisor
When I was around 5 years old, my grandfather installed smoke detectors in our home. He then laid out very specific plans for me to follow. First, he pushed the test button on the device so that I would know what the alarm sounded like. He then explained that I should run out of the house as fast as I could should I ever hear that sound. One day I was busy playing in my playroom and I heard the smoke detector alarm throughout the house. I immediately remembered my training. With my heart racing, I sprinted through the house and out the front door. I stopped in the middle of our yard and turned around with the anticipation to see my house in flames. However, I waited and waited and didn’t see any sign of fire. As I stood there gazing at my house, my grandfather walked calmly out the front door laughing hysterically. It was my grandfather that had set the alarm off. In fact, he was on a step ladder, in the middle of the den as I frantically ran past him. I was so terrified I didn’t even see him there testing the smoke alarm. Most people don’t think twice about their smoke detector going off until it does. However, we know they matter and we know they save lives if put into place ahead of time.
It is important to develop a plan and practice for the things that we don’t do every day. Just because something doesn’t matter today doesn’t mean a plan or practice isn’t a worthwhile exercise. That plan may matter a great deal later. Planning and practicing help us develop good habits. Financial planning is a great example of something we don’t do every day and therefore it doesn’t come as second nature to most people. However, if we commit to the habits of financial planning, we can be successful and initiate our training flawlessly. I know for sure that day that had there been a real fire, I would have made it out of that house! My grandfather’s training mattered.
Estate and medical needs planning is another example of something that doesn’t matter until it does. Society procrastinates about making these types of arrangements for themselves and their families. When my grandmother Janet became terminally ill, we were lucky that she had the ability to complete her medical care directives after the onset of her illness and before she became too ill to do so. This is not always the case, which is why it is so important to take action to complete these types of arrangements before they matter. These documents should be completed no matter how young or old you are, or how healthy you are, even if you feel you may not need them for years. One event can change your situation and these types of documents may matter sooner than you expect. These documents definitely mattered to me while I was making decisions on my grandmother’s behalf.
I recently had a client call me, after a previous discussion, about obtaining long term care insurance. She originally decided against coverage due to pricing and the fact she and her husband were still in their 50s. Sadly, her husband developed very early onset dementia which is what prompted her call to me. She wanted to revisit our previous discussion and to see about getting long term care coverage for him. I regretfully explained that once a triggering illness has developed, long term care insurance cannot be purchased for him. Her husband needed to stop working sooner than expected which meant her plans of retirement were now going to be substantially delayed. In addition, she became faced with the added cost of caring for him.
Here are a list of items I have encountered in financial planning that I feel may not matter to you, until they do:
1) Emergency fund
2) Life insurance
3) Long term care insurance
4) Estate planning documents
5) Medical directives
6) Medical insurance
7) Prepaid and pre-planned funeral arrangements
8) Retirement plan
If you have put off any of these important items, give us a call so that we can help you develop a course of action. The items in this list are always easy to put off until down the road, but at some point, they will be necessary topics to address and they will matter. It’s better to put a plan into place for these things sooner rather than later. When the need does arise, you will be more comfortable with your arrangements and not struggling through without a clear path for a sound resolution.
Our team is here to help you navigate what matters to you and to your family. Please give us a call and let us help you build a plan and put some (or all) of these items into place, and then practice maintaining these each year!