You are a mom, dad, son, daughter, brother, sister, dear friend. You get a phone call that a loved one has suffered a serious medical event, or sadly, is deceased. You are the one called to jump in and help. What now? Is there a well-organized plan in place, or do you deal with confusion and chaos?
If a loved one is grievously hurt or ill, incapacitated and unable to act on his or her own, do you know where key documents are? Do you know the difference between a living will, durable power of attorney for health care, durable power of attorney for assets, advanced directive, and a do-not-resuscitate (DNR) order? The documents do different things and should be well-thought-out in advance.
If you are single, and/or live alone, who would get the call? Would they know what to do? If an adult child will get the call, do they know your wishes?
The older we get, the more complex our lives become and the more our digital and paper trail grows. We have documents and files critical to decision making and taking action. How organized is that aspect of your life? For most of us, our sock drawer is in better shape.
John J. (Jeff) Scroggin is an attorney in Roswell, GA. After dealing with paperwork confusion following the death of his dad, Jeff created The Family Love Letter™. The idea was a booklet and a track to run on to record important information that loved ones need to deal with an emergency or death. Later he teamed up with financial advisor Donna Pagano of California, and they co-authored an expanded version.
Over dinner at a resort in Bernalilo, New Mexico, Donna talked about the development of The Family Love Letter. She loved the concept and took it to groups of women for their reaction. The response was enthusiastic. There was a problem, however. Despite the recognized need, there was so much information to be catalogued that people did not complete the booklet. They were overwhelmed. That is when she and Jeff realized that the missing ingredient was a financial advisor.
Dan Sullivan, The Strategic Coach, coaches advisors and entrepreneurs. Dan said, “I’ve always believed that it’s more important to have really great questions than really great answers. Really great answers tend to close things down, while really great questions open things up.” Financial planners are good at asking questions. Questions will help you to find answers critical to framing contingency plans, succession plans, and end-of-life issues.
When an advisor works with you to create a comprehensive financial, estate, retirement, investment plan, or some other strategy, a plethora of information is assembled. Copies of wills, trusts, powers of attorney, advanced directives, insurance policies, tax returns, and other key documents are secured. Net worth statements are created; investment accounts are detailed. A financial planner can help you to record key data in your Family Love Letter and establish a process to keep it up to date.
You also should assemble important documents including birth certificates, marriage records, divorce papers, pre-nuptial agreements, military records, Social Security records, property titles and deeds, mortgages and other debt information. Where is your safe deposit box? Who has passwords to access vital digital records? Who could pay your bills?
What about legacy wishes? Family fights over property, artwork, heirlooms, jewelry, and keepsakes are legion. What about a beloved pet? Have you hidden cash, gold coins, or other treasures?
A document useful in recording your wishes given a serious or terminal condition is The Critical Care Decisions Guide available from www.GeorgiaHealthDecisions.com. Information on wills, trusts, medical directives, and The Family Love Letter is available on Jeff Scroggin’s web site, www.scrogginlaw.com. Or check www.familyloveletter.com. As Donna Pagano notes, “It’s information your family needs in a time of confusion.”
The Investment CoachTM 1994, Walker Capital Management Corp. Lewis Walker is President of Walker Capital Management Corp. and Walker Capital Advisory Services, Inc., a Registered Investment Advisor (R.I.A.) Securities and certain advisory services offered through The Strategic Financial Alliance, Inc. (SFA). Lewis Walker is a registered representative of SFA which is otherwise unaffiliated with the Walker Capital Companies. 3930 East Jones Bridge Road ▪ Suite 150 ▪ Norcross, GA 30092 ▪ 770-441-2603 ▪ (Fax) 770-441-7936