I recently broke my crown. I'd worn the crown for a few years and it served me well. However, people noticed when I broke my crown because I was unhappy and had a pained look on my face. No, I'm not talking about the kind of crown that rests on your head---I wish I had one of those but it wasn't in the genes! The crown that I broke is of the 'dental" kind. When it broke, I learned a valuable lesson which can be applied to my estate planning law practice. Don't put things off!
The problem started a while back when a small part of a molar crown chipped off. It was small so I didn't really worry about it. I figured that I had time to address it later. I'd just have my dentist look at it at the next visit. There was the mistake--the rest of the crown never made it to the next visit! Instead, most of it cracked off within a few weeks. That meant a couple of things. First, the pain and discomfort associated with having a tooth that was barely there. Second, fixing it would have been easier if done sooner rather than later. Perhaps quick action might have allowed the tooth to be fixed without a totally new crown. Perhaps it could have saved time and expense.
When I realized there was a problem, I wish that I had addressed it right away. This is a great lesson for all of us when it comes to estate planning. Everyone needs basic estate planning on one level or another. Young or old, the need is definitely there. If you don't know this, just ask someone who has had a severe illness, injury, incapacity or death in the family.
Every adult should have at least these minimal documents:
1. Last Will and Testament
2. Durable Power of Attorney
3. Power of Attorney for Healthcare
4. Declaration of Living Will
5. HIPAA Authorization
These basic documents provide broad protection in the event of illness, injury, incapacity or death. In addition, some people may also need a Living Trust--particularly if they own real estate or have minor children or grandchildren.
The analogy to my crown is that the action needs to be taken before a problem becomes unmanageable. With my crown, I neglected it and paid the price in terms of pain, time to fix, and expense.
People who neglect their estate planning will pay a price and it may mean their family and loved ones will also pay a price. Instead, those people should schedule an appointment with an experienced estate planning attorney and get their protection in place. Don't let your broken crown go neglected!