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Estate Planning

A Nod to Philosophers and Poets

By November 30, 2016No Comments

“Change is the only constant in life.” – Heraclitus

Raphael's HeraclitusThis year, 2016, will likely be determined by historians as one of the most politically chaotic in the history of the West.

First, there was Brexit; then there was USAmerexit. And regardless of where you stand on either outcome, two things are certain, both:

(1) were unfathomably unpredictable; and

(2) represented a fundamental recognition of opinion divergence in the representative countries.

Whether the diverging opinions are based largely in fact or fake news is debatable, but that the world has and will continue to change is not.

So…what to do?

To paraphrase the world-renowned mater poet, Maya Angelou:

If you don’t like something, then change it; if you can’t change it, then change how you respond to it.

Yet, often, people do nothing; they simply accept the change in quiet, unnecessary resignation.

As an attorney, it is my duty to consider the pending political climate and respond accordingly by recommending pragmatic planning for changes to current policy that will affect our clients. Yet, changing political climates do not change how we always approach planning for our clients and the question we always consider: What if?

Nothing is guaranteed, not good health, not good fortune, nothing except death.

So, what if a loved one, who owns a nice home and has a good retirement plan, is diagnosed with a serious, long-term illness that may result in death or permanent disability? What if this kind of emotional, potentially life-changing shift occurs? Your loved one can:

  1. Fight the diagnosis aggressively, using all resources at their disposal. Doing so may work, in which case the diagnosis will change. Doing so may not work, but the fight may be a necessary catharsis or expression.
  2. Accept the diagnosis and do nothing, which will likely result in long-term and serious anguish for their immediate loved ones and squander precious resources – theirs and yours.
  3. Change the way they plan to spend retirement, by establishing a care plan and an estate plan, which will result in long-term peace and benefit for all. Most importantly, providing them with the highest quality of life possible under the circumstances.

Our office has witnessed all 3 of the above scenarios and cannot emphasize how unnecessary the heartbreak – or family feuds – that inertia in cases such as the above is.

The term ‘chaos’ comes from the Greek word ‘kaos’, which meant a void or an abyss; now it means utter disorder. Presuming Heraclitus’ was correct and that change is the only constant, just because we cannot predict what the change will be and the consequential effects, does not mean we cannot appropriately adjust our attitudes, plan for those effects, and avoid chaos, whether in the form of an abyss or utter disorder.

Thank you, Maya Angelou and Heraclitus.

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