Thursday, July 08, 2010

Planning for your worst moments

Seven years ago when Heather and I got married, we were two independent people trying to learn to live together. Today, we work together in a much different way. When I am rash, she is well thought out. When I am disorganized, she has a checklist. When I am tactless, she is graceful. When I am arrogant, she humbles me ;-). It doesn't always work this way, some times she is rash (maybe twice in our marriage) and I am well thought out. She is my compliment and we are dependent on one another's natural talents and abilities now.

I found myself uttering a similar pitch recently when talking to a friend about estate planning. If you are in any way like me, estate planning is crucial because if anything happens to your spouse you will be out of alignment. A Heather-less Erik would be lost in so many ways. Many of those ways, Heather is the only one who knows. For example, Heather is the bill payer in the household. Do I even know how or when I am supposed to pay which bills? If you aren't the bill payer, do you know? But, I worry more about an Erik-less Heather. I want to make sure this woman I love so much is okay and taken care of. How do I do that?

A lot of people don't even know where to start with estate planning. Most people believe that some life insurance is enough estate planning. Others go further but stop at a will. The reason I write this is that its not enough. You should have all the information your spouse would need should you pass away. Account numbers, passwords, budgets, bill payment schedules, life insurance, health care information - anything that your spouse can need. Then, if you both have put that information together, look at it and see if it is enough for the person you willed you children and/or possessions to if something happens to both of you. Put it all in a fireproof safe or safety deposit box. Update it (this is where we have failed) yearly.

I can't state how important estate planning is. Your death will be the worst moments of your spouses life. If you and your spouse die, it may be the worst moments of your child's life. A little bit of planning can make those more bearable.

There are many biblical references to estate planning. Perhaps first mentioned here in Genesis 25:5-6 where Abraham had prepared his estate:

5 Abraham left everything he owned to Isaac. 6 But while he was still living, he gave gifts to the sons of his concubines and sent them away from his son Isaac to the land of the east.

James 1:27
Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

1 Timothy 5:8
If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.

I also found this to be an interesting article on biblical estate planning.

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