Love Means Never Having To Say You’re Sorry…For Not Creating A Great Estate Plan!


As you can tell from my “Legacy of Love” tag line on my logo, I feel very strongly about the importance of showing your family how much you care right now while you’re with them – and when the day comes that you’re not.  To do the latter requires a little forethought and planning.  Far too often that doesn’t occur until it’s too late.

Remember Terri Schiavo, the 41-year-old brain-damaged woman who became the centerpiece of a national right-to-die battle?  Like you and I, she never expected to live for more than a decade on life support and a feeding tube.  She was young and beautiful.  She had the world by the tail.  However, all that ended when she decided to try an “iced tea diet”.  As tragic as it is that drinking too much iced tea resulted in a disastrous potassium deficiency that caused irreversible brain damage, it’s even harder to swallow that the nightmare that occurred afterwards would never have happened if Terri had taken a few minutes to sit down with a competent estate planning attorney to create a written power of attorney for health care or a living will that addressed what she would like to happen in the event of a terminal illness.  As a loving wife and daughter, I’m sure she never intended to be at the heart of a seven year family feud.  Nonetheless, blood boiled and legal battles raged over whether or not she should go on living in what Florida courts deemed as a “persistent vegetative state”.

Clearly, life didn’t go as planned for Terri and her family.  You and I would be as silly as an “iced tea diet” if we thought that the unexpected couldn’t happen to us as well.  If I’ve seen situations like this once over the past 25 years as an estate planning attorney, I’ve seen it a hundred times… and itnever gets any easier.  Here are some frightening statistics that solidify my concern for families here in California and across our great country.

A study done nationally in 2007 found that over half (55%) of all adult Americans do not have a will or other estate plan.

The study also found that 41% of American adults have health care directives. This is up from several years ago perhaps because of news coverage about cases like Terri Schiavo’s.

According to a recent survey released on the Web site, the number of respondents who said they possessed estate planning documents such as wills, trusts or power of attorney decreased significantly from the prior survey conducted in 2007.  In the latest survey, just 35% of respondents said they had wills, 29% said they had a power of attorney and only 18% had a living trust or other trust agreement.

It appears that recent economic doldrums have dented many people’s wallets and psyches.  In the Wills & Estate Planning survey of 1,022 people conducted by Harris Interactive, 71% said it’s more important to save money for immediate needs than on long-term estate planning.  Similarly, 73% said that economic hard times made it harder for them to plan for the future. In addition, 9% said they don’t want to think about dying or becoming incapacitated.

As I mentioned in my recent article “5 Excuses That Devour Your Estate & Destroy Your Family,” you need a carefully drafted and tailored plan no matter what your financial status may be.  The ability to make your wishes known to those who are ultimately responsible for making decisions relating to your treatment and care if you become incapacitated are priceless.  The peace of mind it brings to your family, knowing that they are doing what you would want them to do, is an indescribable gift.

Please don’t become a statistic. Pick up the phone right now and dial (408) 741-3500.  A member of our team will help you take the first steps toward creating an estate plan that fits your family like a glove.  It’s painless.  I promise.

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