Ironically, the idea for this post came to me during a bout of insomnia.
It's often said that estate planning attorneys sell "peace of mind." That is, we help people put the pieces in place that allow their family members (or people of their choosing) to legally assist them with their health care and financial decisions when they are unable. It's not thrilling, but when there is a crisis and you can avoid putting "appointment with attorney to review guardianship process" ahead of "visit mom in the hospital" on the list of things to do, you can bet there will be peace of mind all around.
This was further driven home to me recently when I met with a former client. We had prepared his Will about three years ago. He had difficult relations with some of his children and his Will reflected that. At the time we did his initial plan, he felt good about what he had put in place. He called me recently because his health was declining. Rapidly. And he wanted to change his Will. The friend who usually drove him to my office was going on vacation the following week, so I was able to see him within a couple of days. Just in case. He had reconciled with his children and wanted his Will to reflect that. He didn't want to put some of his children in the position of having inherited everything, while others received nothing. He knew that this would damage the sibling relationship and he didn't want that. I drafted his new Will and he signed it that day.
While I was in the other room making copies, I overheard him talking to his friend. "I've been so worried about this. I haven't slept. I'm so glad this is done." His friend replied, "You should have done this when you first thought of it, there was no reason to spend so long being anxious. You can't afford that with your heart." Back and forth they went, like the old friends they are.
When I went back in the room, they continued to express how glad they were that this was done. The stress that was off my client. The knowledge that when he passes away, his wishes will be honored. We said goodbye, maybe for the last time, and each went on with our day.
This is not the first time a client has expressed to me that they have been sleepless over their plan (or lack of plan.) Or that their adult children have been worried about what would happen to their parents with no plan in place. And it won't be last.
And it's an easy enough thing to take care of - a couple of meetings with an attorney, some conversations and decision making with your family and you're done. And if you decide later that you need to change something, just call the attorney and come in and have it changed. Like I said before, I can't drag people in off the street to get these things done, but I can be here for you when you are ready.
*No actual guarantee of better sleep is being made.