September 27, 2012

Every Five Years

Deuth,-Dave-colorBy David W. Deuth, CFSP
President, Weerts Funeral Home

No one likes to think about what happens when we die; this I know all too well. While many talk about pre-planning – and even acknowledge its value and importance – comparatively few ever actually get it done. Even so, this stark and unavoidable reality remains: 10 out of 10 people die.

Pre-planning one’s funeral preferences, important though this may be, is a relatively small facet of a larger, overall plan – a bigger picture, if you will – that should be on everyone’s to-do list on their refrigerator door. You can call it “estate planning” or “this is what I want to be done when I’m gone” or anything else you prefer that motivates you to action. Regardless of what you call it, this “plan” (or the absence thereof) will determine in large part the blessing – or the heartache – you will leave to the people you care about the most.

Two important components of this overall plan are Life Insurance and a Will. Life insurance can satisfy your debts, thereby relieving your family members of certain financial obligations, and your Will is a cornerstone document which anchors many of the other aspects of your overall plan. Remember: a good plan will (or should!) do what you need it to do when you need it to do what you got it to do.

One of the inherent dangers in establishing these important elements of your plan is what I call the “get it and forget it” syndrome. In other words, once they’re established, it’s far too easy to lull ourselves into thinking that we don’t need to worry about them anymore. This can have unintended and even dangerous consequences in certain instances. As such, I like to recommend that people review each facet of their overall plan every five years OR any time major life events affect your immediate household. The birth of a child, the death of a family member, marriage, divorce or relocation all fall into this category.

When a child is born, for example, parents should be thinking about establishing (or updating) guardianship nominees in their Wills should the unthinkable happen. They should also consider updating their life insurance coverage to provide for that child if the unthinkable should happen. Likewise, when a death occurs in your immediate family, it may be necessary to update beneficiary designations if the decedent was a named beneficiary on remaining life insurance policies.

Indeed, establishing the different elements of your plan is the crucial first step. The guidance of qualified professionals for life insurance and a Will is highly recommended; online resources are limited at best and may not cover your particular situation – or even your intentions. The age-old wisdom of parents and grandparents is probably highly applicable here: you usually get what you pay for.

You’ve heard the saying: “No one plans to fail. They simply fail to plan.” And, so it is incumbent upon each of us to keep our plans up-to-date. Every five years. Or anytime major life events affect our immediate households.

Because 10 out of 10 people die.

And someday, each of our plans, whatever they are – or aren’t – will be called upon to do what they are there to do. Good planning will assure that they will do what we want them to do.

Just let that sink in for a few minutes…and then get out your to-do list.

Remember Well.