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After my dad died, my mother struggled for the next 10 years. They simply didn’t have a plan. My mom received about $21,000 from my dad’s life insurance policy through his work, but that was it. There were so many expenses that fell on her shoulders.
When Kobe Bryant died in January, it shocked the nation. Bryant was in a helicopter with his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, as well as John Altobelli, a college baseball coach, and six others. Christina Mauser, who coached basketball for both Bryant’s and Altobelli’s daughters, was also on the flight. Every person in the helicopter was in the prime of life. Bryant was only 41. Interestingly enough, Bryant and his wife had an agreement to never fly on a helicopter together. They didn’t want to risk their kids losing both parents, which is particularly tragic in retrospect. Around that same time, we lost one of our clients. It really highlights one important fact: You never know when your time is up. I’ve told the story of my dad. He died at the age of 51 when I was going into my junior year of high school. It happened quickly, without warning, and no one expected it. Sadly, the story of my dad is not a unique situation. Many people have lost loved ones without warning. One day, you’re having a conversation on the phone or going out to lunch together and the next, they’re gone. This is why it’s so important to have your estate plan in place and ready to go — even if you’re in the prime of life. Look at all of your financial obligations, including your accounts, assets, trusts, everything. Make sure your accounts are set up with the correct beneficiaries and that your estate planning documents reflect that. Basically, you just have to ensure all plans you have for your loved ones — your spouse, kids, grandkids, and so on — are in writing and as up to date as possible. When these documents are not up to date, or if you don’t have a plan, it can create major challenges for your family and heirs when you are gone.
My older brother and sister were going into college, and I was going to a small Catholic school. My school wasn’t necessarily expensive, but it still had a cost. This financial burden was on top of a mortgage, bills, and other living expenses. Even with a job, it was extremely hard to keep up. For the most part, you don’t know when your time will come, but there are things you can do here and now to maximize your health and
happiness. One of the best things you can do for your body is to take your nutrition and exercise into your own hands. This might mean meeting with a nutritionist to figure out a meal plan that works for you, but there are also myriad resources online that can help you lead a healthy lifestyle. One book that put things into perspective for me was “Fit for Life.” The book taught me to get more out of what I eat. To maintain my health, I only eat fruit before lunch, and I have a salad with every other meal. This approach has helped me feel better. Happiness is also part of a healthy lifestyle, and to achieve happiness, it’s important to maximize your relationships. Think about the memories you’re creating now with family and friends. It’s the memories and the making of memories that truly define relationships. That’s what makes the biggest impact, not the material assets you leave behind. Looking forward, I challenge you to do three things (or if you’re already doing these things, recommend them to family and friends).
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