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Cakes, candles, parties and … due reflection on estate planning

Investment News editor and financial planner Mary Beth Franklin ended up with a key take away from her husband's recent 65th birthday that she didn't remotely suspect would materialize amidst the festivities.

And that was this: that figurative and literal coming-of-age party triggered "numerous age-related decisions regarding health care and estate planning."

Hooray for parties, because, in the case of Franklin and her spouse, and similarly too with legions of other folks in the same age demographic, it was the right time to focus on some fundamentally important and long-neglected estate administration concerns.

Like wills. Franklin implies in her column that, had anyone asked her about that key planning instrument, she would have responded that things were well in hand in her personal case. She writes of her confidence that all the important documents relevant to her family's situation were flatly "in order."

It turns out they weren't, which was a stark realization gleaned during post-party reflections and pursuant to the decision she and her husband made to attend an estate administration seminar.

In fact, the couple's will hadn't been touched for over two decades. Multiple factors related to the guardians they had named to care for their minor children had long since become irrelevant (for example, their once-young offspring were now middle-aged adults).

Seminar preparation turned out to be a catalyst spurring a close and comprehensive scrutiny of all elements of the couple's estate plan, which prompted in turn timely updates in important areas relating to health, finances and protections for heirs.

Birthdays are often -- and should be -- fun affairs that serve as signal milestones marking life.

Yet they can also be viewed as reminders regarding the passage of time and the inevitability of aging, which can spur purposeful action that promotes sound, well-tailored and currently relevant estate planning decisions.

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