Your Most Important Plan

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As an estate planning lawyer and mom of four, my life is all about “plans.” From the second we’re pregnant, we’re told to make a birth plan, then it’s planning for feeding and nap times, then planning for preschools, planning for more kids, carpool plans, dinner plans, after school plans, summer camp plans, and somewhere along the way we’re supposed to start 529 plans, too. It’s great when all our plans work out perfectly. But, does that ever really happen? More likely it’s the failed nap times, the kid with the stomach flu the day of the big work conference, or when you go for your 3rd kid and it turns into your 3rd and 4th (who knew twins run in my family?!?).

Life happens. So being a mom is really more about being a highly skilled plan adaptor than anything else. The original plan was for both my husband and me to work at large law firms. Four kids later, not so much. I formed my own estate planning law firm so that, even though I can’t control the weeklong polar vortex school cancellation, I can control my workload (and even sneak a tennis match or yoga class in there). Whether it’s remaking career plans or rescheduling the dog’s vet appointment to accommodate an art show, one of my jobs is constantly adapting our family’s plans as we go.

My other job is helping other families plan for the unthinkable. Finalizing wills, trusts, and other estate planning documents is important. It’s one of the most important plans you’ll make for your family. Big picture — it’s not a big deal if your bedtime plans fail because your son’s baseball game goes into extra innings. But it is a huge deal if you don’t choose the guardians for your kids if you can’t be the one to raise them. You don’t want a court making that plan for you.

Perhaps part of the trick to parenting, then, is figuring out which plans are expendable. You don’t have to RSVP “yes” to every birthday party in the preschool class. Sometimes you have to skip the workout or work conference. Sometimes you have to cancel the play date. Sometimes you have to call the grandmas in. Sometimes you have to buy an extra crib. Life happens. But an estate plan is not one of the optional plans. Of all the plans you make, this could be your most important plan. Because, well, life happens...for better and sometimes for worse.