The Elrod Firm


Focus On What You Can Change

At 2:00 am on Sunday, March 8, 2020, Daylight Saving Time will begin (again), and the majority of Americans are not thrilled about it.  The obvious and immediate frustration results from the loss of an hour of sleep the night we’re forced to “spring forward.”  But statistics tell us that may be the least of our worries or, at least, only the beginning.

CBS News reports that it takes us longer to adjust to the new sleep cycle required by Daylight Saving Time than many people realize, which negatively impacts our mood and productivity long past the night we change our clocks.  In fact, there is a statistically significant increase in both the number and the severity of workplace injuries on the Monday following the time change.  There is also a spike in car crashes in the days following the change.

Perhaps even more alarming, CBS News also reported on one study that found, in analyzing over a decade of stroke data, that incidents of ischemic stroke were eight percent higher during the first two days after Daylight Saving Time.  Another study found statistical evidence of higher short-term risk of heart attack associated with the time change.

If so many people dislike the change and there is so much evidence against it, why do we do it?  Where did this idea come from anyway?  It all started in Great Britain.  You may be surprised to learn that the idea behind Daylight Saving Time was first proposed by Benjamin Franklin in 1784.  However, the idea was uniformly rejected in his day.  In 1907, Englishman William Willett brought it up again, but the British House of Commons rejected his proposal, too, until British Summer Time was finally passed by Parliament in 1916.

The United States followed suit in 1918, near the end of World War I, in an attempt to save energy.  Even though the change was, at least arguably, for a good cause when it was initially adopted, most Americans objected to the change even then.

But here’s the thing.  Unless you want to be perpetually late for everything all summer long, you have little choice than to play along.  Other than, perhaps, calling your Congressman, there’s really nothing you can do about it.  This falls under the category of, “Accept the things I cannot change…”

On the other hand, in my fields—estate planning and elder law—there are several potential stressors in life that can be avoided, or at least mitigated, if you care enough to take action.

One thing about which we warn our clients, young and old, is the potential that one day, you may not be able to manage all of your affairs the way you once did.  You may need assistance managing your business, your banking, and your healthcare.  The best way to prepare for that day is to execute a solid set of power of attorney documents.  The alternative is guardianship court, and no one wants to wind up in court if they don’t have to.

Another thing about which we warn our clients is the peril of probate court.  When you die without proper planning, your family will not be able to receive the inheritance you may have intended for them without spending a ton of money on a lengthy probate process.  But it doesn’t have to be that way if you understand the difference between a will and a trust and know how to properly use death beneficiary designations.

In Ben Franklin’s time, the average life expectancy was only 36 years, so they didn’t have to put much thought into long-term care planning.  But for us, the high costs of long-term care are a third thing about which we warn our clients.  And while we, as attorneys, may not be able to help you avoid long-term care the way we can help you avoid guardianship court and probate, we can help decrease the level of financial stress associated with the need for long-term care.  Without proper planning, most families just pay out of pocket until funds run low.  But there is a better way.

We may not be able to do much about Daylight Saving Time, but we can take steps to avoid guardianship court, keep our families out of probate, and minimize the financial stress that may come with the need for long-term care.  It all starts with a free strategy session.  Give us a call to find out how we can help.

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