Last July, the unthinkable happened. My father-in-law died suddenly at just 58 years old. Both devastation and reality gripped our family. For my husband (his eldest child) and I, it was probably the first time we had considered as a couple the “what-if’s” that surround mortality and the fine, yet vastly important details which frame it. The truth is, even as a professional in the personal finance industry, I hadn’t invested much thought beyond making sure we had life insurance and a last will and testament. We were like so many who never think about preparing for our demise until we lose someone close. But in actuality, at some point, this type of circumstance will hit everyone in some capacity. Either we will experience the tough decisions associated with the possible demise of a loved one OR we will leave a loved one to make such difficult decisions on our behalf.

This month’s issue of Black Enterprise features a great article, Why You Need A Living Will, by writer Bridget McCrea. According to the article, there is a recent report from the National Center for Health which estimates that 13% of African Americans have a living will in place compared with 32% of whites. The problem is that living wills are a personal finance topic rarely, if ever discussed. Because of that, most people don’t even know what it is or how it is used. “A living will, also known as a health care proxy, is a document that allows people to express their wishes regarding specific medical treatments in the event that they are dying, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to communicate their preferences.”

Unfortunately, it’s easy to slip into selfishness when the life on the line belongs to a loved one. Although we might make the decision to keep them alive for as long as possible no matter what the cost, knowing their true wishes may technically dictate otherwise. Creating a living will is not easy, but very much necessary. READ MORE

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