Planning in Transition

All of us go through periods of transition. Things change, for better and for worse, and every transition is an opportunity to take a fresh look at where we are, what we have done, and where we want to be.

My wife and I are in just such a period of transition in our lives. We had our first child a year ago, and I’ve been growing into the role of being a father to a beautiful baby girl; I’ve purchased my first house; I got some unpleasant medical news; and I’ve just moved my five-year-old estate planning practice to a new law firm. Things are shaking up!

Through all of this ferment, I have found myself naturally emulating my estate planning clients who, when having dealt with the death of a loved one, a transition into retirement, an unexpected disability, or the birth of a new child, realize they need to plan for the future.

For me and my wife, that looked like finally establishing our own estate plan. They say the cobbler’s children have no shoes, and even with five years of estate planning experience under my belt I did not have even a basic power of attorney in place!

Facing the possibilities of the future is something I do with my clients every single day, but it’s a little different when it’s my own family. It was hard to look at my daughter and think – what happens if I die tomorrow? What happens if you suffer a disabling injury, or fall into substance abuse? What happens if I do nothing now?

We experienced firsthand the process we call the “parade of horribles.” Trotting out all of the potential disasters was deeply unpleasant, but it’s a crucial part of planning – we hope for the best but prepare for the worst.

What did that look like in practice? I sat down with my wife and our trusted advisors, and we explored our options. I sought out additional life insurance to protect my family in the event of my death, I established a Virginia 529 account to prepare for my daughter’s educational needs in the future, and my wife and I finally got our estate planning documents in place.

It wasn’t easy, but I can look back with a sense of relief knowing that my family will be taken care of if I die unexpectedly, that if special needs issues arise my daughter will be protected, and that there are guardians named if my wife and I are both taken from her when she is still a minor.

And further on into the future – when my wife and I are both gone, if my beautiful daughter has a good-for-nothing spouse who walks out on her, that spouse won’t have any claim on her inheritance!

Are you facing changes in your life? Consider taking steps to plan for the future. Sit down with your family, with your advisors, with an attorney, and think about what you can do to prepare. There might be options you didn’t know you had.

Contact Ben Tiefenback at btiefenback@sandsanderson.com to plan your estate or ask any questions you may have.