I am reminded of my dear mother who used to can fruit each year. People don’t can fruit much anymore, but my wife Susan and I do from time to time, in fact we have a good supply of canned peaches in the pantry right now. There is nothing like adding a chilled bottle of canned peaches to a warm cooked meal. Yum!
As a child I learned that there was a specific process to canning fruit. It was a methodical, deliberate activity that had to be followed to achieve lasting results. The steamer had to produce just the right heat, certain preservatives had to be added to each jar and if the lids didn’t seal properly we could forget enjoying the delicious contents months down the road. How do I know this? I can recall on a few occasions pulling a jar from the pantry only to find spoiled fruit lurking inside. Not a happy time, but sometimes, the best experience is bad experience, if we learn from our mistakes.
Like the lessons learned from the process of canning fruit, the same can be true of preserving our estates. There is a specific practice for effective estate preservation. I have written regarding your financial chessboard, the importance of having a comprehensive view and the significance of coordinating and integrating the various financial instruments in your life. I have also addressed the need to identify various risks factors and the importance of formulating strategies to mitigate those risks. All of this is true, but the step often overlooked is the step of immediacy! We simply must take deliberate action!
Our nation is presently engaged in a fiscal cliff conversation all because politicians continue to kick the can down the road and refuse to address serious problems plaguing our nation. We must act and put prudent solutions in place to fix our woes. Not doing so will continue to put our children and grandchildren and risk!
Unfortunately, I could tell you a host of heart breaking stories of clients who procrastinated important actions in their lives and because they did, significant opportunities not only passed them by, but unnecessary hardship befell them which could have been avoided. Had they taken action, the road ahead would have been so much easier. While a missionary in the Philippines some 30 years ago, I memorized a quote by an unknown author that has remained with me. It reads, “On the plains of hesitation lie the bleaching bones of countless millions who on the dawn of victory sat down to rest and while resting died.” On the topic of procrastination, Benjamin Franklin said, “You may delay, but time will not.” And our beloved Will Rogers said, “Even if you’re on the right track-you’ll get run over if you just sit there.”
I worked with a client recently seeking options on a protection strategy for long-term care. The best course for her was an asset-based approach, which required a medical evaluation. At 76 years old she was denied due to a very recent medical condition. She was so upset with herself. She repeatedly said to me, “Oh why did I wait so long? I have known I needed to do this for years.”
I had another client who on the dawn of putting together a very effective legacy strategy had an unexpected fall. This event precluded her from qualifying for the best solution. I met with another person whose brother was abruptly admitted into a skilled nursing facility. He is on a feeding tube and can’t communicate well. They did the important work of obtaining a financial power attorney in 2007, but not a physician’s healthcare directive. This oversight is now causing them problems in communicating with healthcare providers. Again, why are we putting off important planning until it is often too late?
Let’s not be like the two lions, who sitting on the side of a mountain saw Noah and his company sailing in the distance. One said to the other, “Oh, was that today?”