9247 North Meridian Street,
Written by Danielle and Andrew FiegaMarketing Director, Fiega Consulting
Cancer forced my husband, Andrew, and I to take a hard look at our estate and last wishes from a relatively young age. As a financial advisor, Andrew has often seen how certain decisions, or lack thereof, can dramatically affect the comfort of survivors’ lives. In our household, we take zero chances. We assume the worst, so we are pleasantly surprised when things work out.
In 2011, Andrew’s father was diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer. He was given six months to live, but only saw six weeks. It was a hard truth to accept, but Andrew still had the responsibility of serving as his father’s financial advisor. His father hadn’t been a planner, and he didn’t have a will. He wouldn’t have had life insurance, either, had Andrew not convinced him to purchase it. A few years before his diagnoses, he bought a modest policy. Four years to the day, his father received his diagnosis, and called Andrew. “Hi, Dad.” “Hi, Son. Is there any way I can buy more life insurance?” “I’m sorry, Dad. That’s not possible now.”
Four months ago, my mother was also diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer. They gave her six months. While my parents have been planners since before I was born, mom’s premature death was not in “the plan.” My dad wanted her to live well into her 100s. However, their planning has helped our family through this unexpected shock. I know where all my parents’ important documents are kept, the institutions where their accounts are located, the location of their final resting place, and their final wishes. I also have an added bonus: Andrew has been their financial advisor.
Maybe the technical details seem less overwhelming because my parents shared their plans and wishes before tragedy struck. It certainly makes me, an only child, more confident in my abilities to meet my parents’ wishes. So instead of emotionally scrambling to finalize any open-ended details, we are enjoying the time we have left.
Aging, death, and incapacitation are unpleasant topics, definitely. But whether you’re the caregiver or the patient, you – at a minimum – need to have an open-ended conversation with your loved ones. It will help answer any questions that arise later, when on-the-spot decisions need to be made. A good financial advisor, estate attorney, and medical doctor can help ensure your family is set up for the worst-case scenario.
Keep in mind that exact numbers (the value of your accounts, how much money your kids will inherit, etc.) do not need to be shared. What is shareworthy? A list of your accounts, and a list of contact information for your estate attorney, financial advisor, family doctor, CPA, and other professionals.
This article was originally published in Kit magazine, March/April 2019