Waiting too long…I guess the blunt word for it is procrastination. The price of procrastination can be high, but I am not sure if people are aware of how high that price can be. At the end of March I received one of those life-changing calls. I received word that my brother was killed in a car accident. You go numb. Making sense of the situation is like trying to put together a 500 piece puzzle while a 10 minute timer is ticking. My brother and I had many discussions about making sure he had all his affairs in order. I can hear his voice over and over, “Sis, I got all that handled, don’t worry…” That was something I always worried about with him. He had a wife, a son and property and little outstanding things all over the place. But I was told not to worry.
My sister and I headed back to New Mexico to help my sister-in-law and another brother who lives in the same town. We spent the better part of 3 days working on locating paperwork, making arrangements for memorial BBQ (because that would be what he wanted), and trying to figure out what’s what so that his wife and son who were in shock would know how they were to carry on. All you have to do is witness the heartbreak, trauma and uncertainty in a family trying to figure out life going forward and you would not “wait too long” to get your planning done. The arrangements that he told me were made could only be executed in a will. There was no will to be found. Well it turned out his wishes were not in consideration as the state of New Mexico laws of heirship took over the process. Talk about feeling helpless! The way he wanted to make provisions for his son were only words in the wind.
The only saving grace of this whole situation is that the probate process has been made so easy in NM. You don’t have to hire an attorney to represent you and you can meet with the judge directly and she helps you through the process. (Texas could learn a few things about making it easier on the residents to settle estates.) So if you are reading this you either have done your planning or you are thinking about it. Waiting to do your own planning, waiting for your parents to get their planning done is risky business if you care at all about a life changing, unpredictable, inevitable event.
My brother was only 50 and on his way to a dental appointment. Think about it….