End of Life Plan
End of Life Plan Reasons
A Personal Story From the Founder:
My Personal Story
The sad truth is that the financial planning industry largely overlooks the fact that End of Life Planning needs to be a part of a sound comprehensive financial plan. To prove my point, as a Financial Advisor for nearly 25 years, I have never been trained or educated on how to help my clients prepare their end of life plans and preferences. Furthermore, I have also never been trained or educated on how to help my clients deal with the funeral planning process after a loved one has passed.
The reality is that a client should logically turn to their Financial Advisor for anything that has to do with details such as their money, financial planning changes, estate planning details (Wills or Living Trusts), tax planning needs, life insurance, burial insurance, and so on. My point here is that as Financial Advisors, part of our job is helping protect families against unexpected events that can cause major financial or emotional challenges and especially irreparable losses.
Most Financial Advisors typically accomplish this need to protect their clients by implementing traditional financial products and strategies such as life insurance or creating a Last Will or Living Trust with Estate Attorneys. They also recommend and promote important insurance policies which are designed to protect against specific losses, such as disability insurance, long-term care insurance, annuities, car and home insurance, and many other options. There is not standard protection package, since each clients personal situation is usually different.
To be honest, when I look back before the year 2008, I considered myself to be extremely well-versed in how to protect my clients, as well as my own family, against unexpected events. However, everything changed for me when I lost a very close loved one on Thanksgiving Day of 2008.
Nobody Knows What to Expect When a Loved One Passes
Losing a close loved one is, by far, one the most difficult experiences anyone can face in their lifetime. I remember feeling so disappointed as we went through this experience because, as a Financial Advisor, I felt as if I should know better. However, the enormity of the situation really hit me when I realized that I never attending a single event where I was educated on how to plan and prepare my clients for this particular situation. I was totally unprepared.
I can remember looking at my family, and whether we said anything or not, it was as if we all had the exact same questions. And sadly, these are the questions that most families are forced to deal with every day when loved ones die, such as:
1. What do we do now?
2. Who can we turn to for credible help, advice, and guidance?
3. How do we get started?
What Would I Do Differently From My Personal Experience?
Looking back on this extremely difficult process myself, these are the times when families can come together, work together, and accomplish some amazing things as a team. However, I will also say that we were quickly rushed into a planning frenzy at a really bad time, and at some point I think we all began to understand the enormity of this situation. When I personally experienced all of the emotional ups and downs, the funeral planning challenges, the memorial service details, the financial decisions that needed to be made, and even deciding on funeral flowers versus donations, what I quickly realized was that planning a funeral can arguably be an overwhelming process for many people.
Looking back, when I considered the importance of losing a loved one, how difficult this process is, and how uneducated and unprepared most families are, what struck me was the fact that it really didn’t have to be this way. Had I known any better, there were countless opportunities over the years for me to find the time to have this discussion with clients, my personal family, and immediate family.
Every day I regret the fact that I did not know how to talk about the need to plan and prepare something this meaningful. I had no idea what I should have done was, at the very least, encourage my entire family to document our final plans and preferences for ”what we would want” by simply completing a Family Record Guide. Every day I see a beautiful urn, and I wonder…and I wish…and I regret…not knowing whether she is in the right place…and where she would have wanted the right place to be.
What’s the Message?
I fully understand that nobody likes to talk about death, dying, or end of life planning. However, we have to face and accept the fact that some day we will all die, and sometimes much sooner than anyone could have ever anticipated. I would like to strongly encourage anyone reading this…every son, daughter, spouse, grandchild, or loved one…to have this discussion with your family…and sooner versus later. Even though you don’t know what the future holds, since dying is inevitable, there is no such thing as planning and preparing this to soon. The worse thing you can do is procrastinate and think “it won’t happen to me“, and the fail to plan until it is simply too late.
No Regrets Here:
By creating an end of life plan in advance, here are a few of the meaningful benefits you will experience from this selfless act of love:
1. Peace of mind – You will sleep better at night knowing that you have completed this all-important plan, and that your family and loved ones will be forever grateful. This is the true definition of a win-win situation.
2. You control how you will be remembered - Knowing this would be a time of great loss, you will be remembered for showing how much you cared by sacrificing the time to do something very special. You last memory is that you loved them enough to do everything you could to ease the burden at the time it was needed the most.
The Everlasting Gift
Going through something like this helps you realize that every day is truly a gift. I guess that is exactly why they call it ”the present“. So please, take advantage of the present you are given today and build a plan that allows your loved ones to celebrate your life, and focus on how grateful they are for all of the great memories they were able to share with you.
I congratulate you for taking the first step to create your end of life plan for you, your family, and all of your loved ones!
Christopher P. Hill, Founder