This is a continuation of the lessons from my motorcycle trip in July 2012 to Scottsbluff, Nebraska and Denver, Colorado on my motorcycle – a three day odyssey covering 1100 miles in temperature of over 100 degrees. It was a test of endurance but also gave me a lot of time to think.
Let me describe the storage areas on my motorcycle. It has a pouch in front where I keep my gloves, a wrench, Chapstick, and other small things. It has two saddle bags. I keep rain gear, tools, extra jackets, and other miscellaneous items in those bags. It has a two-part backpack that slips onto the back of the seat. That backpack has about ten different compartments with zippers. All of my belongings not in the saddle bag or in the front pouch had to go into that backpack.
Each time I got on my motorcycle, I would try to take my billfold out of my back pocket and put it into one of those zipper compartments in the backpack (I was afraid if I kept it in my hip pocket it would vibrate out). Many times I would start off on my motorcycle after filling up with gas and wonder if I had put my billfold in one of those compartments, and whether I had in fact zipped the compartment up. Other times I would not be able to find something because I had stuck it in the wrong compartment, come to the conclusion that I had lost it, only to discover the “lost” item later in a different compartment.
Similarly when I was getting ready for the motorcycle trip, I was trying to find my motorcycle boots and jacket. As I told you in the very first installment it had been about five or six years since I had ridden my motorcycle on any kind of trip. It had probably been that long since I had seen my motorcycle jacket or boots. In my search to find the boots and jacket I went through closets and storage places throughout the house. Along the way I found stuff that I had been looking for for years – things I thought had been lost or thrown away.
Many times we experience that with the planning that we do. We purchase something (like life insurance), open an account somewhere, invest in something, or do our estate plan, only to put it away somewhere. We lose touch with where things are. We lose touch with what things will do for us. When we need that item, either we can’t find it or we don’t remember if it even exists.
Here are common statements I hear: “Well I have a power of attorney but I can’t find it.”; “My mom had a will, I have a copy but I can’t find the original.”; “I think that we have an insurance policy that will cover that claim, but we don’t know where it is.”; “We think Dad has an account at some other bank but we don’t know where it is.”; “Mom and Dad did a lot of online trading, but we don’t know with whom, the account number, or the passwords.”
What my clients are experiencing is having too many pockets and too many closets. We can’t find stuff when we need it and we find stuff when we don’t need it.
It is very critical, whether you’re young or old that you know where and what your “stuff” is. I’m not talking about boots or jackets, I’m talking about your estate plan, your insurance, your investments, and the like. One of our goals when we’re working with our families is to help them get a handle on where all of their “stuff” is, what is it intended to do, whether it will in fact do what the client thinks it will do, and whether it is something that needs to be kept or thrown out. That way if something happens, we will know exactly what tools and resources we have in place, how to tap into those resources immediately, and if something happens to Mom or Dad, how the family can jump right in and take over and access all the planning that their parents have done.
It is not a simple process. The earlier we can get started the better.
It will be so helpful to your family to have everything organized so that there is not too many pockets or too many closets to look through when there is a critical time in your life.
If we can help you eliminate or organize your pockets and closets give us a call.
What was my solution on my trip? In Kimball, Nebraska I was thoroughly convinced I had lost my billfold. After I finally found it tangled up in a jacket, I created a back-up plan. I put an extra credit card and cash in a “secret” place, never to be used. While I continued to struggle to remember if I had put my billfold away, at least I did not experience the “terror” of being penniless!