If anything is for sure this year has taught us is that nothing is certain. Who would have ever thought we would experience the things we have gone through so far? From the election, natural disasters, fires, earthquakes, pandemics, closure of businesses and the loss of so many lives. It has been a year of challenges and disappointments. Recently I was out of town and my son contacted me to tell me that he and his family were forced to evacuate their house due to a fire and the Santa Ana winds. He said, “Mom, don’t worry because I remember the conversations we had over the years and I am prepared.” I was so grateful, but I thought about all of the people I know who haven’t been prepared for disaster or death.
So many people get caught in situations where they are not prepared when life happens. We all know about famous people like Chadwick Boseman, Aretha Franklin, James Brown, Martin Luther King, Jr., Prince, Michael Jackson, Abraham Lincoln, Howard Hughes, Tupac Shakur, Bob Marley, Amy Winehouse and so many more who died without a Will or Trust. After their death, their families had to deal with the legal ramifications of holding onto everything they worked hard for during their lifetime. But what about other situations that life can throw our way that do not necessarily include death? Such as an earthquake, a fire or prolonged health situations. Are you prepared? Even though we push back from discussing such subjects, it is imperative that we have these important conversations with our loved ones. I remember before I got married, my grandmother told me, “now after you get married handle your business and then put it in the drawer and then you do not have to worry about anything down the line.” She was right.
Why is it so hard for so many of us to do what we know is best? This could pertain to so many things in life. I do not know if it is because we think we do not have enough assets to even worry about or if we just keep putting it off thinking we have time. Either way, I am here to tell you the time is now. If anything is certain, time waits for no man and none of us know for sure what tomorrow holds. The first thing I recommend is to take inventory of exactly what you do have (real estate, jewelry, art, family heirlooms, stocks, bonds, savings, retirement plans, medical records and anything else of value) then write it all down with the information necessary to put into your Will or Trust. Secondly, think about other catastrophes such as a fire or earthquake and put the necessary items in place that you will need to get through that situation. I also recommend that you have a designated person that each of your family members can check-in with to let each other know they are okay. This is real talk.
The answer to what would happen if, looks totally different when your affairs are in order than when they are not. If you get married or divorced you will need to update your Will or Trust. Regarding your emergency kit for your home or car, go through it from time to time to refresh it with new food, water and essentials. Do not forget to stash some cash and break it up into small bills, change may not be easily provided when conducting business in such situations. Also, keep your car filled with gas as much as possible, and never let it get under half a tank (I really urge this for women). It is better to be prepared and not need something than to need something and not be prepared. You or your family will thank you later.