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Help others help you.

January 19, 2010

So many of us would like to bury our heads in the sand and not face the reality that we are all mortal. It is a very difficult thing to do, but for your sake and that of others, please seriously consider doing the following. It makes their lives easier and can put your mind to rest. Most of these items can be done with fairly low cash expenditure.

Establish a will, durable health care power of attorney, living will and a financial power of attorney. These documents tell others how you want things handled in the event of your demise, ill health, or in the event you are unable to manage your finances. Perfect example, my mother was in a very bad car accident (WEAR YOUR SEATBELTS PEOPLE – she is now permanently disabled as she did not), and for the following year I had to manage insurance negotiations, make most of her financial decisions and work with health care providers. If you have children, establish a line of guardians to care for your children and a trust for all of the funds that come from your estate, life insurance payments, and social security death benefits.

If you have kids or someone dependent on you for income, buy life insurance, specifically term life insurance with a high payout, 10 times your annual income. Now, 10 times your income may sound ridiculous, but please consider that one year of daycare for 3 kids, even if one or two of them are in school could run you $20,000 (my local cost estimates based on my research). Then there’s the mortgage, housework, errands, it all adds up – quickly.

For your sake and that of your loved ones, please subject yourself to regular physicals by some form of medical practitioner. Many things are reversible or treatable if they are caught early. The information gained at a regular physical gives your practitioners base lines to be able to see deviations from your norm over time.

Again, if you have children, please consider making your own laminated tags and attaching them to the car seats/booster chairs or near their sitting position. These could include: name, date of birth, blood type, allergies, maintenance medications, next of kin, favorite foods, and favorite toys. In the event of a car accident, you may very well be transported to a different facility and this information can help caregivers to put your child at some degree of ease in a very stressful situation as well as provide much needed information.

While none of these items are particularly fun, they can provide a lot of information and help to others should the need arise. Check your local BAR association to find attorneys in your area.

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