If you’re married to an optimistic man who is also a procrastinator, beware. He’ll postpone taking action about things he doesn’t like to think about, often until it’s too late. I think of my friend Carol and her husband Ted.
The storm wasn’t supposed to hit until evening. “I’ll only be gone a few hours,” her husband had said. “ I have to meet this client before the weekend. We’ll review the papers when I come back.”
The storm hit early. The bridge held; her husband’s heart didn’t. When she got to the hospital, he was hooked up to life support. His eyes were closed; he couldn’t talk. His sons consulted with the doctor. They ignored her. Even after ten years, the boys still resented their father’s remarriage after their mother died.
Feeling invisible and helpless, his wife sobbed. If her husband survived, he would need heart surgery and extensive rehabilitation. His outdated estate plan, with provisions tailored for his first marriage, appointed his sons as holding durable powers of attorney. She would have no say in the matter. She knew the sons would not include her in their decisions. If her husband died, his previous will, still in effect, would benefit the adult sons from his first marriage.
A few weeks before his heart attack, they had consulted an estate attorney to bring the plan up to date and reflect their ten years of marriage. She had been so relieved when her husband finally acknowledged how frightened she was not to have financial protection in case something happened to him.
He was the optimist in the family, always expecting the best, looking for the silver lining around every dark cloud. She loved that about him; it balanced her own tendency to brood and worry about things she couldn’t control.
You have a choice – Create an estate plan, make sure you’ve signed the durable powers of attorney and know that you’ve done what you need to do about things you can’t control.
The other choice? Hope for the best.