Terri Schiavo was 27 when she suffered a cardiac arrest in her St. Petersburg Florida home. It left her with brain damage and in a permanent vegetative state. Two years of unsuccessful therapy followed and Terri’s husband wanted her off life support. This request was met with contempt from Terri’s parents who did not want to lose their daughter. The two families debated in court for 15 years about this decision. Reviewing this story taught me three lessons why estate planning is important.
First, a family was torn apart. Relationships are something that cannot be replaced, and I value relationships more than almost anything. The resentment between these families is something that no individual should endure, and it could have been avoided by creating a fully-executed estate plan.
Second, not having an estate plan is usually more expensive than having one. Debating in court costs thousands in legal fees for each family. When Terri was on life support, the medical bills were piling up. These expenses could have been minimized with an estate plan.
Third, you can have peace of mind. I’ve never been in a situation where I had to make a life or death decision, and that decision could weigh on a person’s conscience. If my spouse were in a coma, I would want to be confident I’m doing what she would have wanted. The creation of an estate plan ensures that all of these decisions are made ahead of time.
Creating an estate plan and keeping it updated can save money, keep families together during an emotionally difficult time, and give peace of mind.
Trent H. Colledge is an Intern at Sparrow Wealth Management. He is pursuing an undergraduate degree in Utah Valley University’s Personal Financial Planning Program. He will take the Certified Financial Planner exam in March 2018, and will graduate in April 2018. He enjoys playing basketball, spending time with his family, and helping others learn about finance.