Paradigm Shift in my Thinking
On our last trip to Belize, Jennifer spent several days undergoing treatments after a diving accident. It was a scary time for both of us. I made the video above to express my thoughts and thank all the medical professionals and individuals at Turneffe Island Resort, Ramon’s Village and the Medical Facility in San Pedro.   Abner, Antonia, Dr Mark, Dr Claude, Jose, Jack, Hiro, Bryan and others whose names escape me were a huge help during this trying time. 

When my father passed away over a decade ago, we experienced many worst-case scenarios of the probate process. We dealt with litigation, thievery and lots of nastiness that often surfaces when someone passes away.  This awful experience proved to be a catalyst for us to plan well for our children if something were to happen to Jennifer and myself.  We planned for many eventualities thinking through executors, trustees, and guardians for the kids.  But I always thought that I would pass away first or that we might possibly pass away together.


Helping Others by Sharing Experiences

I want to save others from having to go through many of these painful experiences. It is not easy to share many of these things, especially considering I am a financial planner and I was not effective at protecting my own father and his estate from many of these pitfalls.  But if I were to pretend that everything was always rosy with my family and everything went smoothly with the probate process for my father’s estate, I would be much less effective at helping people avoid many of these same issues.

When dad passed, the probate process lasted over three years and cost tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees.  These fees were just the tip of the iceburg. We encountered years of trouble and heartache outside the probate process.  For instance, the estate was subject to taxes due to unfunded insurance trusts.  We had to get approval from the court to borrow money on dad’s home so that the estate taxes could be paid on time, because the probate process was taking so long.

I teach a few estate planning classes each year to help others avoid these issues.  But I would not be in the position to help others nearly as much if we had not experienced these heartaches.  What we experienced, as nasty as it was at the time, has helped me to be able to help others more effectively. 

Hopefully sharing the story of Jennifer’s accident in Belize will also be helpful.  There were many Belizeans who were invaluable for us to help Jennifer recover. Jennifer would not be home with us today without them and we want to say “thank-you” 


Being Prepared

Below are some links to articles I’ve written over time to help others with end-of-life scenarios.  This last experience changed my thinking a bit with regard to this.  End of life scenarios are not something that are fun to think about or talk about. Hopefully this video will also help motivate someone to plan effectively rather than put it off and our painful experiences may make a difference for others.

Jennifer & Joe’s last dinner in Belize after doctors gave her clearance to fly home.
Jennifer & Joe’s last dinner in Belize after doctors gave her clearance to fly home



Joe D. Franklin, CFP is Founder and President of Franklin Wealth Management, and CEO of Innovative Advisory Partners, a registered investment advisory firm in Hixson, Tennessee. A 20+year industry veteran, he contributes guest articles for Money Magazine and authors the Franklin Backstage Pass blog. Joe has also been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Kiplinger’s Magazine, USA Today and other publications.


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