One Last Act of Love

Journal of Financial Planning: April 2021


As I sit down to write this, it has officially been one year since COVID-19 came to Colorado.

In April 2020, it will officially be a year since COVID-19 came to my family.

My father-in-law, a health care professional, contracted the virus while on the frontlines at the Veteran’s Administration Hospital in Aurora. In the period from April to June, my husband and his brother spent hours navigating the court system, filling out forms, and going to the courthouse in person during a pandemic, so they could make decisions on behalf of their dad, who spent nearly two months in a coma—and for five of those weeks, on a ventilator.

In my career, I’ve edited seven issues that focus on estate planning. I’ve read the same messages over and over about the importance of estate planning. But the period from April to June 2020 showed me the why.

My father-in-law made a miraculous recovery. He’s now home. He doesn’t need 24-hour care. He’s getting stronger. He regained all the weight he lost while in the hospital. He’s not 100 percent, by any means; COVID-19 was not kind. But what he has expressed to my husband and brother-in-law is that he’s grateful for the decisions they made.

Everything worked out. But there was a chance he could have been upset with the decisions his sons made.

A pandemic will force a person (well, it forced me) to think about their mortality—especially when you see what COVID-19 does firsthand and how close to death it could bring you. What I realized is that estate planning is compassion for the people you leave behind. It gives your clients’ loved ones freedom from having to guess what they would want.

At this time, as things have finally calmed down for my family, my husband and I are working with our financial planner to get our own estate planning documents in order. Making these decisions isn’t about mortality anymore; it’s about showing each other one last act of love.

Ana Trujillo Limón