Not long ago an obituary in the Seattle Times caught my eye:
Mary Wechsler, prominent Seattle attorney and former president of the King County Bar Association, died of Amytrophic Lateral Sclerlosis (Lou Gehrig’s Disease) on January 21, 2011 at the age of 63.”
Although I don’t recall meeting Ms. Wechsler, I did recognize the photo included with her obituary. Thus, I may have attended a meeting with her at some point or at least previously seen her photo in a local legal publication. Ms. Wechsler’s obituary goes on to state all of Ms. Wechsler’s professional accomplishments and recognitions received during her impressive career, some of which I have achieved, but on a more modest, smaller scale (for example, although I have never served as the president of the King County Bar Association, I am presently the chair of the King County Bar Association Guardianship and Elder Law Section). Thus, her death is a little close to home. If it isn’t enough to lose such a bright star too soon, the following paragraph of her obituary caught my attention:
Mary was diagnosed with Amytrophic Lateral Sclerlosis in late 2009 and retired her law practice in April 2010.”
Thus, Ms. Wechsler passed away just over a year after her diagnosis and a mere nine months after her retirement. Her death clearly came quick (perhaps she utilized Washington’s right to die laws, which is only speculation on my part and is clearly a topic for another blog).
It made me wonder, if I received a medical diagnosis which would ultimately be fatal, would I be ready to go? Spiritual issues aside, my mind immediately goes to all of the matters that I want to get in order prior to my death including, but not limited to the following: better organizing my financial records; updated guardian provisions for my children in my Will; adequate life insurance, especially now that I have incurred the additional liability of a commercial building for my law practice; fully funding the revocable living trust that my husband and I created in 2000; an ethical Will for the benefit of my children , my way of expressing to them my values and wishes for their lives; a letter written to my nominated guardians in which I would express the values and opportunities I want my children to have prior to their obtaining the age of 18; and putting in writing my periodic thoughts regarding how I would like to be memorialized upon my death.
Those issues aside, am I ready should I become disabled? In other words, do I have adequate disability insurance, long-term care insurance, powers of attorney, and a current health care directive? Honestly, I would have to say that presently I do not.
As the cliché goes, the cobbler’s children are [often] without shoes. In other words, believe it or not, it is possible for an estate planning attorney to have incomplete planning, clearly the case for me. It is all too easy to table such important matters as life gets in the way. Regardless; I want to be accountable to my family, clients, and friends.
Thus, please look for updates from me in future blogs as I move forward with putting these affairs in order. That way, if the unthinkable happens, I will have done everything possible to not unduly burden my family and will hopefully leave few, if any, loose ends. My hope is that you will be inspired to do the same in the process.