Part III: Implementing the Family Contingency Plan
In Part I, I described the problems that people face after the Family CEO dies. In Part II, I suggested creating a family contingency plan to help prepare for the loss of the Family CEO, and concluded with an important key to making the plan work: sharing it with those who will need to carry it out (your “helper”)!
Now here is the other key: If you are not the Family CEO, you can’t afford to sit idly by and allow the Family CEO to operate alone. You have to take some initiative and responsibility to make sure the Family CEO has done his or her job of properly documenting the family contingency plan, and to know where and how to access it. Then the two of you must work together on periodic dry runs so that your helper doesn’t have to try to figure it all out for the first time after you die. You’ll need to review your plan together so that your helper doesn’t forget where the instructions are to be found and how to get started.
I realize that I’ve just written a tall set of instructions for myself. I got started a couple of years ago with a document I wrote to my wife that I’ve entitled “Things You Might Need to Know.” In looking it over while writing this blog, I realize that there’s things in it that document that are incomplete and/or out of date, so I need to work on that, and then I need to convince my lovely bride to work through it with me. If I die first, I want it to be as well planned and as orderly as possible for her.
It’s amazing how much chaos most people leave behind when they die, largely because they don’t want to think about their own death or what will happen afterwards. Yet almost without exception, my clients tell me that they want everything to go smoothly after they die. Unfortunately, most who do any formal planning only go far enough to create a smooth legal path for the administration of their estates, but have completely neglected the family contingency plan. Resolve today to create and implement a family contingency plan that will supplement and complete your estate plan, and more fully prepare for the future that is certain for all of us.
If you have ideas about how I can help my clients prepare a contingency plan, or if you’d like to share your experiences with these issues and concerns, I’d love to hear from you. My dad’s plaintive pleas to my now deceased mother asking “Where did you put this?” or “How did you handle that?” convince me that this is a worthwhile endeavor.