Monday, November 30, 2020

How Much Does Peace of Mind Cost?

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I’m in the business of peace of mind. To be clear, I can’t put it in a box and wrap it nicely with a bow. And I certainly can’t get a patent on it, but isn’t it kind of fun to think of the possibilities?

I sell peace of mind by listening, asking questions, and then listening some more. I listen to my clients tell me their fears about dying young and leaving their family members with a pile of bills and no access to funds. I listen to their fears about living old and needing long-term care, then having to depend on their children and others for support. I listen as my clients tell me of a child with a disability or special needs who can’t receive any funds without losing benefits or frivolously spending the funds.

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The list of fears is as endless as the people alive, and the solutions are as varied as the fears.

Some of my clients are like Roger, a successful professional who retired a few years before meeting with me. Roger is single and has no children, but he has a big heart and wants what he worked his lifetime to accumulate to bless charitable causes he supports. Other than making sure his assets go to support the charities, Roger doesn’t care what problems he leaves behind or how much it costs to clean up the problems. In his words, “The charities are getting more than they had before.” For Roger, peace of mind means making things as simple as possible for him while he is alive, even if the cost is greater when he dies. Whatever is leftover goes to the charities.

Other clients are like Linda and Seth, a middle aged couple with two kids in college and another who will be joining them next year. Peace of mind for Linda and Seth means making sure their assets aren’t depleted paying for long-term care should one of them need assistance. Family is important to them, so peace of mind also means providing clear instructions for how their estate is to be administered, so their children won’t fight when they’re gone. It also means providing money to help their children build a good foundation in life.

Peace of mind means something completely different to Marylou, a vibrant widow of 78 with a zest for life who is still running the company she started decades ago. Marylou’s peace of mind means making sure the business she devoted her life to won’t die with her. Making sure that her family benefits from her years of hard work is important, but no less important is making sure her employees have the means to provide for their families when Marylou is gone.

Helping my clients find peace of mind is what I do, and I love my job! Roger, the retired professional, found peace of mind with a simple last will and testament. Roger knows that with a will comes the expense of probate court, along with its delays and hassles, but that’s not what is important to him. What is important—that his estate goes to the causes he cares about—is what gives him peace of mind.

For Linda and Seth, peace of mind came through the creation of a living trust. With special provisions in the trust to help Linda or Seth qualify for public benefits should either need long-term care, their minds were eased. What’s more, the trust has clear instructions as to how, and when their children will receive their inheritance. And no, their teenage son won’t get a bucket of money should they die young. The trust makes sure education and responsibility come before the money.

Marylou found her peace of mind through a comprehensive buy/sell agreement for her business. Properly funded, the buy/ sell agreement ensures someone capable of running the business will be in control when she dies, while her family is compensated for the value of the business. “No fighting allowed!” is the mantra Marylou has been citing recently, and now that mantra is protected by a solid legal framework.

So how much does peace of mind cost? You should be asking the more important question—how much is peace of mind worth? How long have you been worrying, planning or thinking about what would happen if you should suddenly pass away? How many times have you silently hoped—or maybe even prayed—that you or a loved one would get through an accident or illness? Or maybe it was just getting on an airplane and being away from your family, never knowing what life will bring.

How much longer will you remain unsettled before you do something?


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