Hi, I’m Nicole Wipp, and I am the founder and CEO of SmartPlanning101.com and the Smart Planning 101 Podcast.
I wasn’t always the “go-to” gal for estate planning, elder law and asset protection in my area – of course – although I am now a lawyer and a businesswoman, at the end of the day I’m really just a person, with a family. And I have to tell you a very personal thing, to give you an understanding of why I do what I do.
My grandparents were amazing people. My grandfather was born in 1903 and moved to Michigan right on the cusp of World War I, to search for a better life. My grandmother, who was much younger, came from a family that moved here during the same period for the same reasons. (This story probably sounds familiar to many of you – so many of us have similarities in this respect.) They lived through every major war this country had from the turn of the century, through the Great Depression, and through a lot of very personal hard times. This made them the people that they were – hard working – loving – saving for the future – family-first kind of people. My grandmother, a very determined lady, owned her own business, ran a farm, and raised five children. My grandfather, the gentlest, smartest man I’ve ever known, never missed a day at the manufacturing facility he worked at, and never complained. They went to church every single week to give thanks for the blessings that they were given. The entire family went to their house every Sunday after church and spent the afternoons together – everyone – kids and grandkids.
I was lucky. As one of the “elder” grandchildren, I got to know my grandparents in a way that some of my cousins never did – I even lived with my grandfather after I graduated from college until his death. I got to see what family really means, in a way that some people never do.
Now I know that my grandparents would have been the kind of people that would say: my kids will do what we want. They know what we want. They would never fight, and certainly not about money. They understand that family is too important to lose over something that silly. They won’t disagree about how to care for us in our last years. They won’t argue about our funeral arrangements. They will always spend holidays together and they won’t forget the lessons of love we taught them.
Unfortunately, however, this isn’t what happened. Although my grandparents had a will, like most people they didn’t really plan. And the result of this is that my family is no longer the family of my childhood or even of my early adulthood: it is fractured, even broken by disagreements over the exact things that my grandparents would have said wouldn’t have happened.
I bring this up because it breaks my heart. I’ve seen, firsthand, the bad results and the unintended consequences of failing to properly plan. My grandparents thought they had done it right. They thought they had everything taken care of. They thought their kids would always “do the right thing.”
Now some of you – many of you – probably think the same thing. Of course, some of you know that, for your loved ones, this just isn’t true. Please don’t get me wrong. My grandparents had good reasons to feel the way they did. They saw a lawyer. They had good kids. I’m not here to tell you that the things that went bad in my family are a result of someone being a bad person, because that really wouldn’t be the whole truth. The things that went wrong are due to what happens with so many of my clients families, every day: misunderstandings, legitimate disagreements over serious subjects, meddling spouses, divorce (children), taxes, probate, expenses not planned for.
Family, or those that we bring into our lives that come to mean the same thing as family, is the reason why I do what I do. I want to give my clients and their families the gift of real planning – planning that does everything it can to prevent the things that can go wrong, during life and after death.