Are You Planning On Getting Hit By A Bus?

06/14/2010 by Michele R.J. Allinotte

As you know, I do estate planning, which means I talk to clients about what might happen should they die or become incapacitated.

For some reason, the phrase “So, if I get hit by a bus tomorrow …” tends to come up quite often during my conversations with clients. Realistically speaking, many of my clients will have no need for their estate planning documents until they are well into their old age, so some of the things we plan for will never actually happen.

But we do plan for them because, you never know, you just might get hit by a bus some day. And if you did, what would happen?

I’ve been thinking about this for a few days from a few different angles.

The first is that my husband was at a work meeting and one of the topics was planning for succession at his place of work. The complaint was that there was not formal training to mentor those employees who might eventually move up the ladder, so to speak.

When my husband and I talked about that, I said that yes, there needs to be a plan for when people retire, but also, you need to think about people getting hit by a bus (see, it comes up often!). What would happen if an employee/supervisor/manager didn’t show up for work one day? Would people know what he was working on? Could things be picked up where they were left off? Is there essential information about the work place that only that individual knows? These are all things that every work place needs to consider.

See, the thing is, I actually know someone who got hit by a bus. When I worked in Ottawa, it happened. One of the IT employees was walking to work and was struck. He was conscious and so he was able to make a phone call. His first phone call was not to his family, but to his supervisor at work! Thankfully he was ok, but what would have happened if he wasn’t?

Another reason I have been thinking about this is because I knew I was attending a meeting last week and the presentation topic was succession planning for business owners.

It was a great presentation on a topic so many business owners tend to ignore or delay their decision making (sometimes until it is too late). The statistics back me up on this one – according to an October 2006 study by the Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses, over 65% of small and medium sized business owners were intending to retire within 10 years. Of all business owners surveyed, only 10% had a formal plan to exit the business. Some had an informal plan, but over 50% of business owners had no plan at all!

Thinking about your death isn’t exactly fun. But we all have a 100% chance of dying. Hopefully, we won’t get hit by a bus tomorrow (or any day) but it is much easier to plan for it now than to leave our families, our work places and our businesses to pick up the pieces if we don’t have a plan.



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