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The Unexpected

Newsflash….

63 year old man gets punched in the face by Pablo Lyle, a Mexican soap star, and dies 4 days later in Miami.

950-ton pedestrian bridge at FIU in Miami crashed into several cars stopped at a red light below, killing six people.

Two people were killed in Broward County (age 17 and 61 – granddaughter and grandmother) and four others injured in a violent weekend crash in Deerfield Beach when a car veered across a road into oncoming traffic.

Aneurism/Stroke – 41 year old Plantation man simply drops dead in front of his wife and 2 young daughters (this is unfortunately someone that I actually know).

What do all of the above stories have in common? I bet non of these people left their houses in the morning thinking they were going to die. Who thinks a bridge is going to collapse on them on their way to work or school? Who thinks that someone driving next to you will become so angry they will punch you in the face? Better yet, who expects to die from being punched in the face? What 41 year old thinks they are just going to drop dead in their home on an ordinary day?

Many of the people that I interact with think of death as something that is going to happen when they grow old and get sick. They think that just because today, right now, they feel ok, they don’t need to be thinking of estate planning because they aren’t old. Well, as you can see from the above stories, life doesn’t always go as planned, and the unexpected does happen. We aren’t invincible. Weird and crazy things happen – and not only to “someone else” – sometimes it’s you, me, etc. People die in car accidents every day. People get cancer and die 3 months later. People bump their heads whitewater rafting and die on family vacations. And people die when a bridge collapses on them.

We don’t do estate planning expecting to die or become ill. We do estate planning to be protected – to protect our family – to make things easier for our loved ones – in the event that the unexpected happens. So why do so many people delay putting an estate plan in place? Why do so many people feel that making a will is something that only old people do? While the odds of dying increase as we get older, young and middle aged people die every day.

We will all die someday, and hopefully we get an opportunity to grow old and die (peacefully and painlessly). But planning for your death or incapacity well before it ever happens is the best way to plan because you are truly protected in the event the unexpected happens. If you are over the age of 18 you should, at a minimum, have a health care surrogate and durable power of attorney so that someone can make medical and financial decisions for you. If you are a little older, and especially if you have children, you should, at a minimum, have a will and possibly even a revocable trust (in addition to a health care surrogate and durable power of attorney). And everyone should have designated beneficiaries on their checking, savings, brokerage, life insurance, retirement and any other financial account that your might have. This gives your designated beneficiary immediate access to money, vs. having to wait until a Broward County probate court gets around to hearing your case and giving you legal access.

The unexpected does happen – will you be prepared?

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