Are you prepared for your eventual death? What about an untimely death, via a freak accident, illness, or other unforeseen events? Do you have an emergency plan for that? How about a disabling occurrence – what’s your plan if you live, but become unable to take care of your family? No one likes to talk about these things, but we all need to. Grief from loss or stress of disability would be difficult enough without leaving behind a mess for your family to clean up. Figure these things out now, when you have time to make good decisions!
To help us address these questions, I have asked my friend Lynn to write a series of blog posts to educate us on the proper steps to take in order to be prepared in case of an emergency.
I met Mr. and Mrs. GYFG when Mrs. GYFG and I served on a Board together years back. Boy, did we have some fun adding our two cents to the table of men representing the community where we lived! Sometimes you have to interject a little humor into the logic and financials 🙂
Life is a lot like that. Life can throw us curveballs along the way. Yet, how do we build our “muscles,” our resilience to act as a “protective shield” for when the $%&# hits the fan? That, dear GYFG reader, is what I have the privilege of discussing with you over a series of articles beginning this month!
First, a little about me and how I’ve come to be the “go to” person for planning, protection, and preparation, and why I’m such an advocate for proactive steps while we’re healthy. In 1983 I started my aviation career in sales in the Bay Area with the then-Northwest Airlines. I was the first woman in this office. I quickly learned that the corporations, military installations, travel agencies and tour operators in my territory were my day-to-day focus. Their diverse clientele demanded representation of product offerings, service, good prices and bottom-line results.
Simultaneously, I was asked to be a volunteer emergency responder, if there was ever a need to be called into duty after a crash. Coming from a family of medical/dental peeps and possessing a strong drive to serve, my “yes” answer was easy to give. What I came to discover is that working in these situations would open up my mind, my eyes and my heart in ways I never anticipated.
You see, we don’t like to think about (and we certainly don’t easily discuss) death – not ours nor that of anyone else. It’s out there in that abstract space of “someday,” but when it touches our lives personally it can take our breath away.
In my mid-twenties I was called to a crash site a couple of years after I had said “yes.” Working the actual crash site and manning the crisis phone lines for the families involved I learned how little anyone typically discusses the practical components of every day lives with anyone else. In other words, we don’t really tell anyone about how we do all the ins and outs of our daily life. It was these practical things that bereaved people were calling about: “How do I find this? How do I do that?” Those conversations are still embedded into me. These poor people were in shock, as they had just lost a loved one. Yet, they couldn’t grieve; instead they were struggling to find things, know things, and simply fill in the blanks to operate their lives. I learned about the practical impact of loss firsthand.
Eighteen months later I was called to another crash. This one was different. Everyone lived. Yet, life was still impacted due to physical, emotional and mental injury. Incapacity – living, yet not with full faculties – became real to me. This brought an entirely new thought to me: what if someday I suddenly couldn’t function as I had been? How would this impact my ability to earn a living and carry on my daily life? This gave me serious food for thought and a path forward in planning for my own life.
My career was on the rise. Promotions were frequent and soon I was overseeing a region of 39 cities. My staff was in two countries and covered multiple states. I quickly learned that companies shared the “ostrich” style I had observed from my family and those I had worked with during the crashes: very little talking about or planning for the “what ifs.”
One day, a young guy in his 30s on my team was diagnosed with a life-threatening disease. Only a handful of people in our company were trained in the particulars of his unique role. Thankfully, I was one of them. While I stepped into his role in addition to my own, I approached all the cities to begin crafting what I called Step in Plans for those “what ifs” like this one.
These diverse events prompted me to become the one in my family who took action in preparing for potential emergencies in life. I dragged my parents through the process with me. My life was important to me, and so were the people in it. How could I take responsibility for “buttoning up?” If someone needed to step in for me, could they? What steps did I need to take while I was healthy to make this possible? Helping those who might have to help us one day is a gift.
An important thing I soon learned was the importance of understanding the particular slang, acronyms and jargon that make up professional vocabularies within the documents and policies that could affect me and my loved ones. Professionally, I have learned how important it is for clients to be able to read, understand and implement what is needed from a legal agreement; also, the importance of protection polices with all those tiny little clauses that we don’t know are there until they are enacted, and how much they impact financial consequences. This translates to the importance of the same learning in our personal affairs, which now allows me to serve you in making and executing your own plan.
I’ve developed a course, which I call The Living Planner©, and I am excited to explore it with you over this series of articles for GYFG. It’s a practical doable course, with actionable steps to take to best protect yourself, your loved ones, your income, your assets and your health.
We’ll learn about what in the heck it means to have an estate plan, what that entails, what aspects of it you need to think about, who can help you and why it’s important.
We’ll learn about the components of your daily life that tend to run on autopilot. You will learn how to gather, organize and create access to your life for another so it is prepared if ever needed.
And lastly, we’ll put these pieces of life into action in a comprehensive way to serve you for years to come.
What I ask from you is this: Read with an open mind. Be ready to consider life as you would a business. What are my assets? What are my risks? How may I mitigate risk in the various stages and areas of my life? Who do I need on my team to make that happen? How will I hold myself accountable? What do I have in place? Where do I need to focus to complete missing pieces of a good plan?
If you’ll do this, you’ll be in the right spot to take some action. And you will be taking action at the right time: before the day it’s needed.
I’m looking forward to being your guide for these articles. Buckle up – we’ll make it fun!