A couple of weeks ago, I noticed that the tires on my car were wearing down. I knew I needed to get the tires checked, and I set a day and time that I could go to the tire shop to get them done. As I drove to the tire shop, I noticed the car was not driving correctly. First, the care just seemed to have trouble staying straight, then it began to vibrate, and finally buck forwards and backwards. This did not seem right to me. I looked into the passenger side mirror, and noticed that the tire tread from my passenger side, rear tire was moving outside the wheel well. I decided that was not good, and pulled over to the side of the road. I got out of the car, and I this scene greeted me:
I spent the next hour and a half attempting to change the tire, discovering all sorts of fun things along the way. First, I have entirely too much stuff in the trunk of my car. I took it all out an piled it on the side of the road, in an effort to get to the spare tire. Fortunately, I had a spare tire, jack, and tire iron in the car, so I thought I could just change the tire and be on my way to the tire shop again. After all, I was only 4 – 5 miles away.
However, since Murphy’s Law was in full force that day, this proved much more difficult that I initial anticipated. I was able to loosen 4 of the 5 lugnuts, but one was stuck. Eventually a stranger stopped to help, but we struggled together before eventually getting the shredded tire removed and putting on the spare tire. Eventually I made it to the tire shop, where I got four new tires. This adventure turned out OK for me, but I began to think about how it all related to estate planning…and since you are reading this blog, you will get to know my thoughts on that too!
Be Prepared with the Right Tools
On the side of the road, I thought I was prepared to remove the flat tire. I had a scissor jack, a tire iron, and a spare tire. I was also well dressed for changing a tire, as I had my full suit on at the time…perfect tire changing clothes! (for those who missed it, please note the sarcasm here – a suit and tie is not the best for changing a tire)
I did remove my jacket and tie, but that was not a lot of help for when I had a stuck lug nut. I tried on my own for half an hour, but the lug nut would not budge. Eventually a friendly stranger, like the good samaritan, stopped to help. He had a impact driver, capable of putting out 3200 foot pounds of torque. Even that tool did not loosen the lug nut. We fought with the tire and lug nut for an hour before it finally came loose.
My wife told me that when she drove up to rescue me, it looked like I was lifting the whole car by the tire iron. Apparently I am stronger than I think! Now, if only I could fly and stop bullets, I could be Superman. Alas, no such luck.
Work With a Professional Who Knows the Right Tools
When I did get my car to the tire shop, it took the workers around 35 minutes to replace all four tires. I had spent an hour and a half just to get one off, and they did all four in ⅓ of the time. I see a couple of important lessons here. First, you need to have the right tools. A tire iron, spare tire, and jack kept in the trunk of a care are emergency tools, and are not designed to do things quickly or efficiently. Although these tools are better to have than nothing, the right tool makes a big difference.
Similarly, you want to use the right tools for the job in estate planning. I have previously written about the potential problems with using an online service for setting up an estate plan. When working to create an estate plan, it is much better to have the right tools to perform the job, and to have an expert with the right tools to get the job done for you.
Just like it took the guys at the tire shop very little time to solve my problem, an experienced estate planning attorney can solve your estate planning concerns. I cannot count how many times I have brought something up in a conversation with a potential client and heard them exclaim, “Huh, I never thought of that.” Apparently I have worked long enough in the estate planning field that I am able to bring up important things that escape the awareness of someone who does not work in the same field as I do.
You want to be the one who uses a professional and gets your estate planning done right!
I found the timing of the tire adventure quite ironic that I was on my way to the tire shop to get the tires checked and replaced when the tire shredded itself. I knew I needed to get tires, but I put it off just enough that the tire did not last. I was so close! But, not close enough. A friend of mine chided me for letting my tires get to worn down. I suppose that friend was right. (But, I also suspect the nail in the tire had something to do with the whole adventure!) However, the timing did catch my attention.
I have written entire blog posts on not putting off your estate plan until it’s too late. This was an example played out in my life. If I had gone to get the tires a day sooner, or a week sooner, or a month sooner, I would not have had the problem of a shredded tire. I would have been able to get my tires replaced and avoided the experience entirely. Instead, I did not plan far enough ahead. Similar to the tire, I have been to visit people in the ICU, or who were gravely ill. These people were waiting to the final hours to get things prepared. I have been able to help most of them, but one or two did not make it until I could get the estate planning documents prepared. Just like my tire didn’t make it the last few miles, these individuals did not make it until their last minute estate planning was complete.
Don’t let that happen to you! Plan ahead for your estate plan before it’s too late…we want no flat tires on the estate planning road.
Smooth Driving Ahead When Done Right
Now that I have new tires, I am back to driving like I expect. My car handles properly, the tires work, and I arrive at my destination safely. However, my tires will not last forever. That was part of my problem before the shredded tire…the tires were old. And, my new tires will become old as I use them. At some point my tires will wear out and need to be replaced. I will need to do that before another shredded tire if I want to avoid being stranded on the road.
Similarly, an estate plan can become outdated and need to be updated or replaced. Life circumstances can change and laws can also change, so you need to be ready to update your estate plan. An old estate plan may not wear out and cease to function, as old estate plans are still in force, but that may create more of a problem than it solves. An outdated will that reflects old goals and objectives may not get you what you want. Don’t let an outdated estate plan drag you down.
Get your estate plan up to date and ride that estate plan like a new tire. Get where you want to go. And realize that just because you do something once, that is not the end of it forever.