What can we learn from tragedy

What Can We Learn from Tragedy?

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John Corron, CFP® – Wealth Advisor –

It has been a humbling month for my community. Untimely deaths and serious illness have impacted people and families I know intimately, and it is unsettling to see the ripple effects of those tragic events.

There is no playbook for dealing with these situations. The emotional, physical and financial tolls that death and sickness take on people are unfathomable when we witness it firsthand. Times of loss are the hardest part of the human experience and I find myself observing valuable lessons that I will carry with me into those times that I know are coming to my family and friends eventually.

Nobody wants to think about getting sick or dying. As a result, most people don’t spend enough time thinking about and planning for what is left for their families when they’re gone.

I’m generalizing, but below are some examples.

We completely delegate important things that we probably shouldn’t.

When it comes to finances, there is typically a spouse or partner who takes responsibility for paying the bills and keeping track of what’s on the family balance sheet. When they are gone there is heavy stress and an emotionally draining puzzle to solve in getting a handle on finances.

For me, it’s very important that my wife knows where everything is, who she needs to contact and how to access everything she will need if I were gone. Building the “to-do map” together can be empowering and insightful for everyone involved.

We trade life experience for financial security.

Think about the highlights of your life. Maybe I’m wrong, but I would bet that most of the thoughts that come to mind involve shared experiences with people in your world – and that a vast majority did not take place at a job site.

Being proud of work and career is important, but those experiences don’t necessarily fill life with the purpose and fulfillment that we desire for ourselves. Sharing the fruits of labor and scarce free time is what we feel, remember and cherish most. Often, people don’t realize this until they feel secure financially. For some, that day never comes. Refocusing on those experiences you want to share with your family, friends and community will leave you with fewer regrets at the end of life, even if you have less cash in the bank when that day comes.

We do not measure insurance needs often enough.

It is great to get life insurance in place early in life to cover catastrophe, but if your wealth and borrowing grows over time, increasing insurance coverage may make sense. Being sure you have enough life insurance coverage to settle tax, debt and lifestyle needs is important for avoiding potentially significant disruption and hard financial choices and stress for those you leave behind.

We believe that tomorrow is a good time to do something.

On a busy day, maybe that’s true, but what are we missing out on when we don’t carve out time for things we value most and important relationships today? We may all know people who will never be able to tell a family member what they mean to them. We may all know people who will never be able to experience an aspiration because their health robbed them of the ability to do so before they thought it would.

Make a list of the plans, conversations and interactions that you intend to experience in the future and see if you can make them happen soon.

We don’t think that updating estate planning documents is urgent.

Simply put, getting these documents updated is urgent. Be sure that wishes are documented properly, trust language is clear, accurate and current with today’s laws and the people you specify are still the right individuals for your estate team. Leaving updates and important details out of estate planning documents can leave a big mess for those you leave behind at a time when they may be emotionally and mentally stressed.

Tragedy, loss and illness is unavoidable for all of us so I encourage everyone to take what is left in their wake seriously. Proactively planning for what might come after these experiences may be some of the most impactful time and energy you spend on making sure your family, friends and community are ok when you are gone.

Planning goes a long way toward a better life while you’re here and smoother life transitions for those you leave behind when you’re not. Schedule a conversation

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