It’s one of my favorite holiday movies and I watch it every year! I am talking about A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. This year, it struck me that some of the lessons weaved throughout the story have similarities to recent experiences in my life and why I do what I do. How does Estate Planning relate to A Christmas Carol you ask? Well let’s discuss.
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens teaches many lessons but a prevailing lesson that spoke to me is the importance of family and relationships. Ebenezer Scrooge is visited by three spirits on Christmas Eve which led to a profound change in his mindset.
The first spirit, The Ghost of Christmas Past, makes me think of my own journey and what has led me into the field of Estate Planning. Over twenty years ago, my family went through a very trying experience when my beloved Uncle was very sick and dying. He did not have any healthcare directives in writing, and this left my father to make agonizing decisions on his behalf. The stress this inflicted on my father and the weight of the decisions he was forced to make were carried with him from that day forward. This experience changed me profoundly. I knew right then I wanted to save other families from this distress, and I chose to focus my practice on Estate Planning and Probate law.
The second spirit, The Ghost of Christmas Present, has me reflecting on my family’s most recent loss, the death of my father just the past September. Earlier that month, my father fell ill, and he needed to be in the hospital. My family experienced a grueling two weeks of seeing my father deteriorate while also seeing small glimmers of hope he was coming back. Throughout this time, my family and I had to make decisions on his behalf regarding his medical treatments. For many families, and much like mine 20 years ago, these decisions are riddled with disagreements, fighting, confusion and possibly the end of some familial relationships. However, my father gave my mother, myself and my siblings the most amazing gift by having his wishes clearly stated in his healthcare directives. We all were on the same page. We did not fight. We did not second guess. We successfully cared for my father in the manner he asked of us. The loss of my father has forever changed me, and I know how much worse the experience would have been had he not had his healthcare directives in place.
The third and final spirit, The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come, speaks to the future and what we can do today to impact our tomorrow. For me, I find I am a bit more thankful for the time I have with my loved ones. I treasure each interaction just that much more, knowing we never know when it will be our last. There are a lot of “what ifs” on the road of life and few things are guaranteed but we cannot avoid death. It is the one thing we all have in common, the one thing we can all say will absolutely happen to each one of us. I do not want to be a burden to my family when my time comes. Dealing with a death is hard enough but what often is overlooked is the “business of dying.” Upon your death, there are so many tasks that must be handled by the loved ones you’ve left behind. Burial decisions, accounts to settle, assets to divide and the list goes on. I don’t know when my time will come but I do know, having my estate plan in place with my wishes clearly defined, is the absolute best gift I can leave my family.
Learn from my journey and don’t wait another moment to get your estate in order. As you gather with family in the coming days, start the conversation and give me a call (704) 843 – 1446.