sad man

It’s the saddest day of the year. You all know what I am talking about: the last day of National Estate Planning Awareness Week.

Here in Iowa, the weather is appropriate to everyone’s mood. It’s grey and drizzly and overcast and cold. Almost as if the Universe itself was acknowledging the melancholy of ending NEPAW 2017.

woman standing in road in raincoat

But we sure had fun, didn’t we? We took a deep dive into the history of estate planning itself. Estate planning, in some form or another, has been an important aspect of societies in the world for hundreds and hundreds of years. In almost every society folks wanted to pass along their assets to the people they care about and want to provide for.

We talked modern lit, too. Kazuo Ishiguro won the 2017 Nobel Prize for Literature and so we explored how his novel Never Let Me Go contained lessons for estate planners. After all, our lives are all too short. What should be our legacy?

We were reminded of the importance of Powers of Attorney. In particular, everyone should have a Power of Attorney for Health Care, a legal instrument that allows you to select the person that you want to make health care decisions for you, if and when you become unable to make such decisions for yourself.

Ultimate Estate Planning Checklist

The Gordon Fischer Law Firm Ultimate Estate Planning Checklist makes it easy to visualize your completion rate of the important documents and estate plan-related tasks. It’s an easy to read, handy dandy cheat sheet of items to accomplish to get you from zero to hero in estate planning world.

Yes, we sure had fun. [Sigh…looking out of rain streaked window, thinking]. While we’ll have to wait a whole year until the next National Estate Planning Awareness Week, let’s always choose to be aware of the importance of estate planning regardless of the day. With a quality estate plan crafted by an experienced lawyer, every single day of our lives can be like a day of National Estate Planning Awareness Week!

Here are three things you can do to keep the spirit of National Estate Planning Awareness Week alive regardless of the date on the calendar:

  1. If you don’t yet have an estate plan, get one. NOW. Filling out my Estate Plan Questionnaire is a great and easy way to start the process.
  2. Talk to your family, friends, colleagues, fellow churchgoers, and so on, about your own estate planning experiences. If it was easier and less expensive than you thought it might be, share that info. If having six basic documents, brought you great piece of mind, tell them so.
  3. Subscribe to my free e-newsletter, GoFisch, delivered to your inbox every month. It’s chock full of helpful information about Wills, Trusts, Powers of Attorney for Health Care, Powers of Attorney for Financial Matters, pet trusts, and really every aspect of estate planning.

I’d love to talk with you (even if you’re not as disappointed to see National Estate Planning Awareness Week pass as I am). Contact me by phone or email at any time.

Kazuo Ishiguro author

The Nobel Prize in Literature for 2017 was awarded to Kazuo Ishiguro, “who, in novels of great emotional force, has uncovered the abyss beneath our illusory sense of connection with the world.” Ishiguro has written several novels, and is best known for two: The Remains of the Day, and Never Let Me Go.

Never Let Me Go

Published in 2005, Never Let Me Go is a unique creation, a dystopian romantic drama set in a British boarding school; it’s part Kafka, part Austen, with a dashes of soft science fiction, and even slave narratives thrown in. Still, despite its uniqueness (or, because of it), the novel reveals four themes useful when planning your estate.

If you’ve read Never Let Me Go, you know it’s so hard to discuss this book without spoilers. Still, no spoilers below.

Lesson # 1. You need direct, unvarnished, and unbiased advice

Never Let Me Go is told in first person narrative by the character Kathy H.

Kathy H. is what your English lit professor called an “unreliable narrator.” There are reasons to question if what she relates is the entire truth. She’s limited even as to what she is truly and able to see and reflect upon.

But, don’t we all have our own blind spots? A good estate planning lawyer, along with professional expertise, offers a clear view and objectivity. By working with a lawyer, you’re going to bring that extra voice of reason to bear on current and future estate planning needs. Is it a good idea to leave your entire estate to your cat Tiger? Should you instead consider a pet trust? Is your 18-year-old kid truly mature enough to responsibly handle your million-dollar life insurance policy payout in one lump sum? A lawyer can give you direct, unvarnished, and unbiased advice.

Lesson # 2. YOU decide the terms of your own estate plan

Many who’ve read Never Let Me Go come to vastly different conclusions as to what the novel “means.” No one interpretation is “right,” nor are any interpretations “wrong.”

When you talk to your beneficiaries about estate planning—whether it’s loved ones, charities, or hopefully both—be aware they have their own point-of-view. That’s not meant as criticism. It’s just that reasonable folks can, and often do, differ on resolving issues.

It’s YOUR estate plan. Except for the most extreme cases, there is no right or wrong. Your estate plan is whatever you decide it is.

Never let me go quote

Lesson # 3. Read and reread (and reread again) very carefully

Never Let Me Go, at first glance, is a coming-of-age story, with twists. Upon rereading, many readers report they view the novel much differently—as a deep allegory; a meditation on memory and forgetting; the meaning of love and what it means to be loved; the definition of being human; and most especially, what should we each do with our own life, lives that are all too short.

Even though you’ve hired a professional estate planner, who’s put a lot of time and thought into drafting an estate plan perfect for your needs, you must read the estate planning so carefully. And reread it. Upon rereading(s) you might, say, change your mind on overall goals; think of a new issue to address; realize what sounded good during a conversation may not look as appealing when written down on paper; remember another nonprofit you want to aid, and so on.

Read, read carefully, and reread carefully.

Lesson #4. Leave a Legacy

Forgive me for posting this horrible hypothetical, but suppose you suddenly suffer from major organ failure. What will your legacy be? What do you want your legacy to be?

Estate planning is largely a part of leaving a lasting legacy. No matter what happens, through estate planning you ensure your legacy will continue.

Have you read Never Let Me Go? I’d love to hear your thoughts on the book as well as any questions you may have about your estate plan. If you don’t have an estate plan, now is a great time to get started. Fill out my Estate Plan Questionnaire or contact me by phone (515-371-6077) or email.