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The Importance of Having Your Affairs in Order

This morning I awoke to a crash and a bang and the sound of my baby screaming. I rolled over to my husband and he was not in bed, I called for him, "are you okay?" There was no answer. In a split second I was out of bed and down the stairs. From the base of the stairs I could see my husband's head on the kitchen floor and no baby, just screaming. I lunged over his lifeless body and grabbed my screaming baby who was laying on her back on the tile floor red in the face from crying but otherwise unharmed.

From what I could tell my husband had gotten up, changed our baby's diaper and headed downstairs to make her a bottle. An empty bottle was laying on the floor and a kettle full of (thankfully) cold water was all over my husband and floor.

With screaming baby in one arm, I shook my husband with the other and after a few terrifying seconds he opened his eyes and asked, "What's going on?" I told him not to move and got him a glass of juice from the fridge. "Drink this," he sat up gulped about half the glass and lay back down, "I don't feel so good." He closed his eyes again and a moment later jolted up spilling orange juice all over and said, "What's going on, is the baby okay?" I explained again what had happened and told him he needed to go to the hospital.

My husband insisted that I not call 911 so instead I called his parents to come so that the baby did not have to go to the emergency room too. Over the course of the next 20 minutes I settled the baby with her bottle and talked to my husband who was freaking out. He didn't know what day it was, what had happened, and no recollection of the evening prior. Every time I explained to him a minute later he would ask again, "what happened?" I was wondering the same, the only little person who saw what had happened had no way of telling us.

My husband is in his early thirties, healthy and self-employed. In the five years I have known him, he has been sick twice, whatever had happened, something was very wrong. I just came off of maternity leave and have since quit my job. We met with an insurance company just last week to get the appropriate insurance in place and our lawyer to draft up our Wills, Enduring Power of Attorney and Personal Directives but nothing has been signed or sealed as of today. Our family is living on my husband's income and his income alone - what would I have done if he hadn't woken up? Luckily he and the baby are fine and we are not sure what happened but from this frightening incident we have learned:

First and foremost, never make a bottle while holding the baby in one arm, she may cry but she can wait in her crib or saucer or even her highchair; and

You are never too young to have your affairs in order, it is a tough conversation to have but an important one and unless you have major changes to you family structure you really only need to deal with these decisions once.

Life Insurance

There are a few different types of insurance out there. On a very simple level your options boil down to insurance that is combined with some form of investment or term insurance.

Insurance combined with an investment costs more but gives some return if you stick with them for the entire term. There are ton of different products out there and it is important to shop around for one that is right for you.

The alternative type of insurance is term insurance, term insurance has a flat, lower monthly rate that is spread out over a term of 10, 20 30 or more years.

Regardless of which product you decide on, it is important to go into this knowing what your needs are. Many insurance sales people are on commission and will make you feel that you need a bigger policy than you do. Many of the different bigger insurance companies have online tools available to help you figure out your needs. Ultimately you need to calculate the amount of money you will need to pay off any debt, a funeral, your child or children's education and the amount your survivor would need to live off of on a month to month basis.

Wills

Where we live, there are two kinds of wills that are legal:

A Formal Will

A Formal Will is that drafted and executed by a lawyer. A Formal Will uses concise language to make sure your final wishes are clear so that if somebody decides to dispute it you can rest assured your wishes will remain in effect. Although this can be slightly expensive, it is a one time fee and you can be certain you have done all that is in your power to express your final wishes. Be sure to shop around for a good lawyer that is willing to take the time to answer your questions. Most lawyers charge a flat rate for both individuals and couples that wish to have theirs Wills, Personal Directives and Power of Attorney done up.

A Holographic Will

A Holographic Will is a document drafted entirely in your own handwriting and signed before two witnesses. Your witnesses must both be individuals that are not recipients of anything in your estate. It is important to use specific language so that there is no question of your intentions. The only advantage to this approach is it is essentially free to draft your own Will. Be sure to research the laws surrounding Wills and Estates in your area before taking on this task.

Personal Directives

A personal directive is a document in which you can appoint an agent to make personal decisions for you should you become unfit to do so from injury or illness. A personal directive deals specifically with personal matters such as where you might live and the type of medical care you would like to receive.

Where we live it is not necessary to have a lawyer draft this document although, as mentioned above, it often comes as a package deal when you have a Formal Will drawn up. A kit for a Personal Directive is available at the office of the Public Guardian although an individual could write their own so long as it is signed, dated and witnessed by another individual.

Enduring Power of Attorney

Enduring power of attorney is a document in which you appoint an agent to manage your matters pertaining to finances and property should you become unfit to do so. It is called "enduring power of attorney" and not just "power of attorney" because the agent can take on his or her duties at the time you become unfit to do so or after. It is important to choose somebody who is aware of your wishes when it comes to your finances and property. It is also important to ask the agent if they are okay to do so. Many financial institutions offer this service at a charge. It is important to make sure that you are aware of all fees and service charges associated with this appointment prior to putting it in writing.