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Just Duct Tape It?

By: Attorney Katherine S. Breckenridge, Esq.

Published May 7, 2015 – Culpeper Times

Estate Planning

I stood in the aisle amid the myriad of tools on the walls, the flower bulbs in bins, the shelves of cast iron cookware, the rows of canisters that can address most house and garden projects, and the gadgets packed seemingly into every corner at Clarke Hardware. I breathed in the essence of what only comes about in such a business of over one hundred years.

Perhaps old-time hardware stores may be found in other towns across Virginia. The kind where you know you will locate just the right remedy for your project. A visit to Culpeper’s old-time hardware store is always accompanied with sound advice from the seasoned and talented minds of those who roll out a daily welcome mat as they open the historic doors, move the fresh plants to the sidewalk, and attract the young-at-heart with the red Radio Flyers.

The very thoughts of how fortunate our little town is to have had such a treasure right in its center were running through my mind, as Claude Minnich, the owner of the store, asked how he might be of help. My response was, “I think I will just stand here, in this spot, attempting to hold on tight to a piece of history, until the doors are shuttered.”

Within weeks, the farmers who depend on this establishment for their feed, the business owners who enjoy the convenience of location for the purchase of light bulbs, the gardeners who purchase their seedlings, and the out-of-town guests who have for so long received the warmest of welcomes in a “journey of stepping back in time,” will have to look elsewhere.

Though the “whys” are for others to entertain, I still wish that I could “fix it.” By that, I mean stop the advancement of time, or at least stem the erosion of change to elements of our community of which we should preserve.

Claude and I laughed at the concept of me standing in place until the doors close for the final time, knowing there was business to tend to. Thus, I told Claude that I had parked my car in front of the store, hoping he would have a solution for the noise that the car- rack was making. Following me outside to my car, Claude stepped onto the running board, and took a look at the “noise maker.” He promised to look amongst his “junk boxes” to see if he could find just the right gadget, but in the meantime suggested that I, “Just duct tape it!” Priceless – treasured and useful advice!

There is a sign hanging in Clarke Hardware, “You only need two tools! WD-40 and Duct Tape. If it doesn’t move and it should, use WD-40. If it moves and shouldn’t, use the tape.” (Author Unknown) No combination of duct tape or WD-40 can reverse the change that is occurring. I wish the complexities were that simple.

Duct tape is the solution to many situations – holding items together, ensuring that items will work, providing longevity, and strengthening weak elements. And, added to the silver colored duct tape we have always known, are prints and color options for even the most discerning of users.

Certainly, “earthly planning,” does not negate or replace the sufficiency found in Christ. “Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup; you make my lot secure.” (Psalm 16:5 NIV) We are however, encouraged to be good stewards of all of our bounty, both tangible and talents. “As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.” (1 Peter 4:10 NKJV)

Keeping that in mind, as another seemingly irreversible change occurs in our little town – I encourage you to use the change as a motivation to take control of those areas within your purview. Specifically, do you have your estate documents in order? Have you made sure that your needs and wishes are protected while you are here on this earth? Have you designated a trusted individual to make decisions for you and your assets in the event you are unable to make such decisions?

What is in your estate planning toolbox? Assess what documents you need in place in order to provide for a good quality of life for yourself, and for a strength and longevity in your estate matters. Unfortunately, duct tape is an analogy at best. It takes well drafted estate planning documents, such as a trust, a will, a power of attorney, and an advance medical directive to soundly address the complexities of planning for your needs during life and your intent upon passing. Design the layout of your “store front.” Protect your intent for your treasured gadgets. Keep at bay the self-serving by making preparations in advance. Use well-placed words within your estate planning documents as a duct tape hybrid.