After being out at the beginning of the year because of a major COVID ordeal, I’ve decided to share my story, along with a few tips to help my clients avoid a similar nightmare situation. If you’ve just stumbled upon this post, be sure to check out Part One and Part Two for the full context.
For a brief recap, in January 2021 I tested positive for COVID-19. My partner caught it from me shortly after, and he died from it. We had a bit of a head start on his estate planning, as a previous surgery had prompted us to start planning. Even still, I had to do plenty of scrambling. While battling the virus, I had to draft a trust, locate the original copies of critical documents, and try to cope with the situation as it unfolded. The situation was completely unexpected and unfolded in just a matter of weeks.
In hindsight, this experience was naturally immensely difficult to go through. Even still, I can’t help but think it could’ve easily been so much worse. Remember, I did have a couple of factors working to my advantage:
We had already completed our estate planning documents.
I have experience in this business coaching clients in situations similar to my own.
Had either of these things not been true, I would be probating an estate and doing all kinds of things in addition to grieving and trying to recover from COVID myself. This brings me to the third and final major lesson I learned from COVID that I believe anyone reading this can benefit from:
Lesson 3 From COVID
Many of us who are of a certain age have managed to accumulate a lot of things – many of which we haven’t wanted to part with. We have all kinds of memorabilia from our children’s childhoods – their first painting, their report cards, etc. I, for one, can’t throw any of those things away. When my daughter chides me for keeping all that stuff, I tell her that she can go through it and throw it out, but I can’t. Now, the older we get, the more losses we’ve had and the more things we end up possessing that have sentimental value. It’s hard. We all probably have some hoarding tendencies. AND, when a house has been passed down to the next generation and that next person passes, you’ll often find two lifetimes’ worth of stuff that has to be dealt with.
The same way we do our estate planning, we should do our house clean out. If we don’t do it, our kids will have to. And after we’re gone, they have to make the hard decisions we didn’t want to make. Even worse, if we’re still alive but can’t take care of ourselves anymore –the kids have to relocate us and sell the house. Then they may end up being in a position of taking care of us, taking care of their own families, holding down a job, and cleaning out/ selling our house. Many of my clients' adult children are in this exact position. And they are not young themselves. It's a big deal.
It’s not that difficult to find a good, reasonably priced professional organizer to help with a clean out. An organizer has experience helping us make the hard decisions on what to keep and what to let go of. Once you’ve uncluttered, it’s also much easier to keep your financial and estate affairs in order. When a crisis hits, people panic. If your matters are organized, it will make a big difference to your family.
Thank you for taking the time to read my story. I hope these insights, along with the previous posts in this series, will help you and your loved ones to achieve peace of mind and preparedness for the future.