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Financial Consequences of a Husband's Superstition
by Helga Hayse

Some superstitions are harmless, like knocking on wood, carrying a rabbitapostrophes foot or hoping that if you get on a plane with your right foot that the plane wonapostrophet crash. I do this last one myself. Silly, but harmless, unlike other superstitions that are serious and affect other people.

For example, the millions of husbands who are superstitious about estate planning and therefore, refuse to do it. Or do it partway but wonapostrophet sign all of the papers. Like Ed, whose wife Cynthia, is held hostage by his superstition.

Ed and Cynthia have been married for 35 years. Heapostrophes been a good husband and father and loves her dearly. But he has this quirk - he believes that if he signs the durable powers of attorney papers which are part of their estate plan - God is watching and will decide itapostrophes time for Ed to die.

Because Ed wonapostrophet sign the necessary papers, Cynthia wonapostrophet be able to act on his behalf if he canapostrophet make medical or financial decisions for himself. His adult children from his first marriage will be making those decisions unless he signs the papers giving Cynthia those powers.

"Ed signed the other estate planning documents, but wonapostrophet sign the durable powers of attorney," she said. "He says he will, but when I remind him that the planning isnapostrophet complete unless he does sign, he accuses me of nagging. He knows itapostrophes not rational, but he says it makes him feel better. Even though I understand it, I feel like a hostage to his superstition."

Is there any difference between that kind of thinking and not walking under a ladder, wearing garlic around your neck to protect you from vampires or crossing the street when you see a black cat?

When I was researching my book "Donapostrophet Worry about a Thing, Dear", I discovered in interviews that many men left loose ends in their estate planning and procrastinated about completing the process.

For example, William just kept apostropheforgettingapostrophe to fill out the papers to fund the revocable trust he and his wife Lila had set up. Their lawyer explained that, until their financial assets were transferred into the trust, the trust wasnapostrophet considered a legal entity. That meant that if something happened to William, the trust couldnapostrophet provide Lila with the legal or financial authority to act as the trustee.

When I interviewed William, he said heapostrophed been busy, had other things on his mind and just never got around to it. He intended to make the transfers as soon as he had a minute. Yes, the lawyer had offered to take care of it, but he preferred to do it himself.

Meanwhile, Lilaapostrophes hands are tied because he doesnapostrophet want her to take care of it either. "My husbandapostrophes friend had a fatal heart attack on the tennis court the day after he and his wife signed their living trust," she said. "You try convincing my husband that the same wonapostrophet happen to him."

Superstition is a powerful, irrational and usually subconscious, belief that keeps many men from taking action to protect their wife in case they die. It presumes a causal relationship between something we do or donapostrophet do and the outcome of some future event.

My husband died 30 days after our estate plan documents were signed. Was there any connection between that and his death? Am I so significant to how the universe works? Of course not.

If only we had that kind of power. If only we were the center of the universe, where what we do matters on a cosmic scale. Itapostrophes comforting to think that a higher power is watching and rewarding or punishing, waiting until all the papers are in order and everything is signed before taking us away.