Lamar Odom tragedy highlights importance of living wills

The tragedy offers a timely reminder for advisors on educating clients on the importance of estate planning and divorce, with Odom’s ex-wife, Khloe Kardashian now responsible for medical decisions on his behalf

The sordid Lamar Odom case took an unexpected turn into the estate planning realm with new revelations indicating, the now-comatose former NBA star’s ex-wife, Khloe Kardashian, was responsible for making his medical decisions.
Without a living will, Odom was left exposed.
Every advisor worth his salt, stresses the importance in any estate plan of wills, power of attorney or personal or health directives aka living wills.

Find out what are living wills in Canada in this article.

But if used tactfully, this tragedy can be used by advisors to help illustrate the importance of developing an estate plan and having all the documentation in order.
“I think the single vivid example is often more powerful than any number of different statistics or this vague future notion that yeah, sometime I might need it,” said Sterling Rempel, a wealth and estate planning specialist with Future Values Estate & Financial Planning.
“[Odom’s case] can be a teachable moment. I would use it cautiously because we would never want to use someone else’s pain to heighten a client’s guilt.”
TV shows can also be a great illustrator and Rempel uses Breaking Bad, as a relatable example.
“Walter White needed to cook meth because he hadn’t done his proper estate planning and hadn’t bought life insurance,” Rempel says. “If you remember the first season, he had done a financial needs analysis: he needs this much for his spouse and for his son’s education. And where does he get the money? It can be a humorous example. It’s not as threatening perhaps as pointing to a local tragedy.”
In the Odom case, also exacerbating the issue is after his recent divorce it appears all the documents weren’t updated.
“Up to date documents are extremely important,” says Sean Harrell, with Trilogy Wealth Management Inc. “Depending on your situation, an outdated document may do more harm that not having a document at all.  Major life events such as divorce should act as a catalyst to review all your finances.”