Originally published in The Oklahoman on Sunday, September 13, 2020.
A legal assistant at our law firm has a sign on her desk that says, "Look around you. Appreciate what you have. Nothing will be the same in a year."
I have read that sign every time I have walked into her office over the years — hundreds of times. Words could never have rung more true if I had taken heart of that advice in September of 2019.
No one could have truly understood the ramifications of COVID-19 on our fellow Oklahomans over the past year. Regardless of your political position or your tax bracket, the disease has changed our lives forever.
As one of the partners at our estate planning law firm, I am frequently asked by other business owners and friends if COVID has hurt Evans & Davis the same way it has hurt so many others. I smile and shake my head and try to avoid the question.
The reality of what I have learned over two decades of drafting wills and trusts is that when bad things happen in the world, people think about dying. After terrorist attacks, market crashes, or natural disasters, our firm experiences an influx of clients worried about getting their affairs in order.
It should not be surprising that our friends and family see the value of planning ahead in unpredictable times. Whether in person or virtual, clients often start their initial meetings with, “With the current situation in the world, we figured it was time to get a plan in place.”
Again, I simply smile because we have been preaching this concept since the day the firm opened. It is better to create your own plan years before you need it.
However, I am also empathetic to the worry that our clients feel at their core. This pandemic has forced people to think about their own mortality. One of the greatest worries of all our clients is the unknown. Your estate plan can’t take away all the uncertainty of death, but it can ensure your wishes are carried out when that day arrives.
The most rewarding part of our job is the day the clients sign their estate plan and you can visually see their shoulders relax when they sign the last document. Whether clients admit it or not, we think about death all of the time. When you pass a car accident, or when there’s turbulence on a plane, or when a friend gets diagnosed with an illness, it runs through your mind, “that could be me.”
In the end, people are less stressed about their death after they execute an estate plan. And let's face it, everyone could use a little less stress in their lives right now. Look around you. Appreciate what you have. Nothing will be the same in a year.
Bryan Evans is an attorney and founding partner with the law firm of Evans & Davis. The firm, which has offices and practices in 15 states, is headquartered in Edmond. The firm has 18 attorneys and focuses exclusively on estate planning, business planning and probate.