Michael C. Wittenberg offers a guide to complex estate planning issues in Are You Ready Yet?
Wittenberg has an alphabet’s worth of credentials and over 35 years of financial planning experience, but what sets him apart is nonfinancial: He holds a Master of Science in mental health counseling and served as primary caregiver for his mother in her final years of life. Attuned to the emotional challenges of end-of-life planning, he can explain the financial impact of having a will, proper beneficiary arrangement and power of attorney while giving sage advice on approaching difficult conversations with relatives about money and health.
Wittenberg covers a lot of ground, and although the back cover describes the book as “compact,” it isn’t particularly concise. This isn’t a book of bullet points and brief definitions; wordy sentences will test readers’ patience: (“If you find yourself having difficulty sorting through the robotic maze of phone choices, referred to as a phone tree, if you dial zero on many systems, that selection takes you directly to a company representative.”)
And while readers will appreciate the conversational tone Wittenberg takes with stories from his work and life experience, grammatical errors and clumsy passages can make comprehension challenging. Referring to never-married women, Wittenberg writes: “The implication is that not having two incomes, and though it is changing that historically, women have earned less than men.”
A glossary of technical and legal terms might have been useful. And as with any financial or estate planning guide, caveats abound. The author recommends seeking professional advice before doing anything that could have unforeseen consequences.
Are You Ready Yet? could be valuable as a kind of initial consultation on end-of-life planning, introducing the topic in a less intimidating way than the “to-do lists and checklists” that many estate planning books provide. Keener editing, however, would make its advice much more accessible.
Also available in hardcover and ebook.