Anthony Brown

Are You Ready For “The Talk”?

Friday December 14th 2012 will forever live in the souls of all Americans, particularly American parents, as a day of terror, shame and heartbreak.  The Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings were an unconscionable reminder of how the unexpected can change everything.  On a very personal note, I spent that day alternately weeping and hugging my three-year-old son.  I was emotionally drained.  Later that night, I thought that I was coming down with the flu as I had a fever, was coughing a lot and my whole body ached.  Little did I know that I was headed for an unexpected emergency hospitalization that would change my life.

My husband of 23 years and I had foresight to do all of our estate planning many years ago.  We updated our documents at the birth of our son and we travel with everything a non-traditional family needs to “be safe” in areas of the country that do not recognize us as a family.  While my particular relationship may, or may not, compare directly to that of a co-parenting couple, the value of careful estate planning is essential to everyone, especially if there are children involved.

When we were waiting in the hospital for a doctor to explain exactly what was going on, up until that moment, we only knew that I had an attack of diverticulitis, we were not ready for what happened.  A young intern walked into the room and his first words were, “You know this is really bad, don’t you?”  I looked at my husband, who was beginning to tear up, then back at the doctor and said simply, “no, I didn’t.”

He explained that I had multiple perforations of the colon and that my abdomen was infected.  I had a 70% chance of needing emergency surgery and there were many risks involved.  He then left the room.  His need for a lesson in bedside manner aside, my husband and I proceeded to have, “the talk.”

The insurance documents are in a folder in the closet.  The bank account information is in a secured document on the computer.  Call our financial planner when you get it together.  I don’t care about having a viewing.  The first people to contact in case I don’t make it are…  I went from a normal day in my life to “the talk” in a heartbeat and I am here to say that if we did not have our estate planning “ducks in a row,” it would have been the worst “talk” of my life.

As an addendum, I am on the mend and have been slowly, but surely, healing, thanks to the love and support of friends and family.  But when I didn’t know if I was going to make it or not, I couldn’t help but think of the absolute vulnerability of life, as exemplified by the 26 lives that were lost in Newtown Connecticut on December 14th 2012.  When it comes to your children, there is nothing that should stand in the way of making sure that they are provided for just in case the unexpected actually happens.

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