If we knew which year the hurricane was going to hit our house, we may
decide to buy homeowners insurance only for that particular year and not
"waste" our money buying it in other years. However, we don't
know for certain when or even if our homes will be damaged, so we buy
homeowners insurance every year "just in case".
Likewise, we don't know when an illness or an accident may temporarily
or permanently rob us of our legal capacity. If we knew we wouldn't
be in a car accident or have the stroke until next year, we would wait
until next year to invest in putting our durable powers of attorney and
healthcare surrogates in place. However, we don't know, so like our
homeowners insurance, we should invest in putting them in place now "just
Twice in the past week I have been reminded that "what if" really
does happen. In one situation a woman entering the nursing home took the
prudent step of putting her durable power of attorney in place. She died
unexpectedly the next week. After the fact (with 20/20 hindsight) some
friends asked her daughter why her mother had "wasted her money"
on planning that she didn't end up needing. Her mother did it because
"what if" doesn't put itself on our calendars and she loved
her family enough to want to make it easy for them to step in and take
care of her if she couldn't take care of herself. Peace of mind was
not a waste of money to her or to her family.
In the second situation, a man had started the process of putting his healthcare
surrogate and durable power of attorney in place when an unexpected accident
put him in the hospital with an uncertain prognosis. It was heartbreaking
to learn that "what if" had stepped in and robbed him of his
chance to put his wishes in place. Fortunately, he is recovering and will
get another chance to beat "what if" and put his own plan and
wishes in place.
"What if' can and does happen every day. Don't let "what
if" get the upper hand in your life.