(This article was first posted on 24 Feb 2014)
I feel quite drained with the back to back bad news of the last 2.5 weeks. Perhaps claims officers would be used to such stories. However, with it happening to the families of people I know, it seems more personal. I have done what I could to help, and wish I could do more. At the same time, I wonder if I or the family and friends of these people, could have helped to cushion the impact by persuading them months ago to look into proper financial planning. We cannot determine sickness, accident or death, however financial and other preparation are within our control. As I said to a dear client - "Time cannot be turned back." So while there is still opportunity, what has to be done is best done now. Let's also treasure and spend time with our loved ones.
10 February 2014, Monday
I met with a referral who has had two kidney transplants, and two other operations - one due to an accident which resulted in cracked ribs. Mr W was looking to reorganise his finances and take up insurance for his wife and three daughters. Then within the next 1.5 weeks, he told me that his father-in-law was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer, followed by his mother's hospitalisation due to severe asthma, and the latest shock was that his nephew learnt he had cancer too. The bad news came wave after wave.
11 February 2014, Tuesday
Ms Z whom I had met just 5 months ago, and for whom I had put in place hers, her husband's and their three children's family insurance and savings, called to seek help for her sister and brother-in-law. A fit-looking man, her brother-in-law had suffered a sudden heart attack and gone into a coma after a leisurely afternoon ball game with his sons. Just 1.5 weeks in a government hospital ICU, and the bill had come to $20,000. He had no insurance, and had also not done a LPA (Lasting Power of Attorney). His wife had no access to his bank accounts, and his three school-going children were all in shock. After being confused with the advice of well-meaning relatives, Ms Z suggested to her sister to not rely on hearsay and to go to the right source instead. That was when she called me. My colleagues and I were able to direct her to the Legal Aid Bureau as one source, and also to refer her to a lawyer to file an originating summons (under mental capacity act) to get court order for appointment of a deputy. Ms Z shared that with her own family to care for, there was only so much she could help her sister too. We are arranging for her sister and children to have their own insurance plans in place, to mitigate any other unexpected financial shock.
16 February 2014, Friday
In between my work cases, I was told of a (a) friend's friend's father who had just committed suicide. (b) Then, when I met with an acquaintance for financial planning last week, she shared that one of her toddler student's father had just dropped dead while typing on his computer at work, leaving behind his wife and two children. (c) That same evening at church cell group, a friend, eyes still red from crying, said that a well-loved and respected 40+ year old colleague had dropped dead. He was in the middle of teaching a class, when he vomited and then collapsed. He also leaves behind children, and a homemaker wife.
25 February 2014, Tuesday
Today, I received a whatsApp message from Mr H that his wife's brother-in-law was in hospital with a blood clot in his brain (Aneurysm). It was sudden. The brother-in-law (Mr E) had lost control of his movements at work, and it was Mr E's colleague who sent him to the hospital. Mr E's wife did not know what insurance policies her husband had, if any, and Mr H had approached me for help. It was unfortunate that Mr E did not have any hospital and surgical insurance, and had even opted out of the basic MediShield insurance by CPF board. I called 12 of the life insurance companies in Singapore where he might have bought policies from. Though he has policies with 3 of those companies, from what I gather, it does not sound like he was covered for the right things. Meaning, he might not be able to claim, despite his current condition. I was told by my client Mr H that Mr E also preferred to buy investment plans. I wonder if he was given customised recommendations for his circumstances then, when he purchased those plans. Or if they were adhoc purchases.
These string of events in a short timeframe of 2.5 weeks, has really reminded me of the fragility of life. It has reinforced the conviction that my work done well will positively impact lives at critical points. At the same time, it is not just about life here. We have to think about eternity and the hereafter too.