by Corinne Heggie
Movie and song remixes are en vogue and have me hopeful that a director might take a crack at the iconic film “When Harry Met Sally.” If a remix of this classic had hit the box office before 2017, I would have urged my in-laws to find central casting.
They met in the early 1950s as middle school classmates in St. Louis. The alphabet had Joe Heggie sitting in front of Mary Etta Johnson and the rest, friends, is history.
Knowing these two, there would have been countless ways they would have clicked early in their courtship, but I bet Mary Etta’s one thousand watt smile captured Joe’s heart from jump. Mary Etta’s smile was contagious. It lite up a room, especially a room full of family and friends, and never ever disappointed when caught on camera. Central casting would have had no choice but to feature The Heggie’s and watch Mary Etta’s smile steal the show. Mary Etta’s smile remained her hallmark even as time and illness unraveled her mind.
In Mary Etta’s case, fear was taken completely out of the game. Mary Etta had signed an estate plan that named a team and relief hitters to help her make decisions about health care and property, even the property she and Joe had owned jointly. After Joe died, the relief team played a critical role. The relief team’s mere presence gave Mary Etta the gift of time and healing. In the days and months following Joe’s death, Mary Etta was not stumbling at the starting line. Her line up was set so her team was able to resolve legal questions and make decisions.
Mary Etta set her team in four documents: 1. health care power of attorney; 2. property power of attorney; 3. will and 4. revocable trust. These documents are accessible to everyone 18 years and older. People who are healthy should consider the documents now while their medical profile is uncomplicated. Once a medical alarm sounds, it is often impossible to unring. For an aging parent or family member who lives out of town, consider naming a trusted adult as a signor to a bank account. Then, if the unexpected should happen, at the very least there is a person who can pay bills.
Now Mary Etta’s team has transformed into more than family members’ names on her roster. It is a living thing with a personality and a pulse, one heartbeat working for Mary Etta’s legacy now that she has been reunited for eternity with her beloved Joe.
Corinne Cantwell Heggie is a principal at Heggie Wochner Law Firm LLC where she protects individuals, families, and business owners with trust, wills, and powers of attorney. Corinne appears in probate and guardianship court and advises business owners on legal issues impacting their work and employees. She is a member of the North Suburban Bar Association’s Board of Directors and served as President of the Women’s Bar Association of Illinois from 2019-2020.