Tough Questions

I spent Father’s Day in a less than optimal spot — visiting my dad in the local hospital.

My father is 87, and a fall down the stairs resulted in life-threatening injuries. As I headed to the intensive care unit that first night, I didn’t know what to expect. However, I did know what my father’s wishes were regarding his care.

My dad is an attorney, and he prides himself on his estate planning, which is guided by two principles: taking care of his family and not paying a penny more in taxes than he has to. My brother, my sister and I know the details and who to contact when he passes away. But when my mom passed away unexpectedly more than a decade ago, we realized we didn’t know what her wishes were regarding critical care or even her funeral.

We learned from those mistakes. Our family discussed not only dad’s estate plan but his preferences for a funeral service (less funeral home, more Irish wake) and his thoughts about being kept alive by artificial means (no). I have a durable power of attorney in my briefcase and a form designating me as his patient advocate.

I was able to concentrate on the most important thing: making sure my dad got the care he needed. With the help of some talented and dedicated health care professionals, he’s doing much better now; he’s in a rehab unit and back on his feet. Hopefully we won’t need to look at his estate plans for a long time to come.

I can’t imagine going through the experience without that preparation. I thought back on the article about exit and succession planning in our last issue by Angie Lewis titled “Leaving Your Business Legacy.” In it, she details the advice of business planning experts Kevin Kennedy and Joe Bazzano of Beacon Exit Planning, who spell out retirement strategies. They also stress the importance of contingency planning — preparing for an unexpected illness or death.

If you haven’t read that article yet, I strongly urge you to do so. You can also log on to view an on-demand webinar on the same subject sponsored by Atlas Roofing.

Contact your attorney and get advice specifically tailored for your situation. Then talk to your family members and ask some tough questions. Take it from me, these conversations are not easy, but asking tough questions now can make difficult times a lot easier.

About Chris King

Chris King is the editor in chief of Roofing magazine. He has covered the construction industry for 18 years, previously serving as editor of Roofing Contractor, managing editor of the Air Conditioning, Heating & Refrigeration News, and associate editor of Plumbing & Mechanical. He can be reached by email at chris@roofingmagazine.com.

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