As I get older, I find that out ofnecessity, I am getting moreand more comfortable visitingcemeteries. So it becomes easier to takepersonally the need for what iseuphemistically referred to as "preneed"or estate planning and all of itsramifications. I suppose it's natural forpeople to feel uncomfortable aboutplanning ahead for our natural ends.But it continues to surprise me thatsurveys repeatedly tell us that physiciansare late in settling affairs concerninginsurance, wills, and the like.Unfortunately, approaching this planninglate will reduce your options,your control, and your comfort level.
Facing the Inevitable
This procrastination may seemcounterintuitive since we doctors,more than almost any other profession,are forced to deal with end-of-lifeissues and mortality on an almost dailybasis. Because the fastest growing sectorof the population is persons overage 85, we are increasingly doling outend-of-life counseling, health carepower of attorney forms, and do-notresuscitatecontracts. As a result, livingin personal denial is getting tougher forphysicians. We don't professionallydeal with our patients' financial affairs,but we are certainly aware of the intertwinedrelationship of health issuesand estate planning decisions.Personally, I think the superstitiousfactor we all publicly disavow plays avery real part in our aversion to estateplanning. To help overcome this inertia,you ought to at least give a wrynod to the phobias that urge us to keepan acceptance of our mortality at bay.The daunting prospect of tackling thehard decisions inherent in estate planningis not just legal and financial, butemotional. So, to paraphrase JoanRivers, let's "grow up!" As my daughtersaid to me, "Here's a brick, build abridge, get over it."
Physician's Money Digest
Happily, the task is quite doable,and is on thejob with this month's feature on estateplanning. The good news is that youcan come away from finally confrontingthe inevitable with relief andincreased confidence. You still may nothave any great desire to visit cemeteriesof course, but you may have agreater desire to get your estate inorder before it's too late. You owe it toyourself, your children, and yourgrandchildren to have a solid plan inplace for when you're no longeraround. Those who are happiest intheir later years are so because theyhave a plan and a sense of control. Andhaving control in your twilight years issomething to cherish. See, sometimesthe best is saved for last. Read on andgood luck.