The Living Smart Story

No one ever expects that really bad things will happen to them. I know I didn’t.  As the former chief investment officer of a life insurance company and owner of a private equity firm, I spent most of my life planning for the future. What I hadn’t planned for was being diagnosed with a brain tumor as I turned 50. I had no idea what to expect or how to prepare for what was ahead.  After many hours of brain surgery, a significant period of recuperation, and being told it was unlikely the surgery would be successful – that death was likely in a matter of months – I realized I was unprepared when it mattered most.


There were a great many people who wanted to help care for me during this difficult time while I was ill and unable to manage my own life. Unfortunately, I learned that it’s nearly impossible for others to act as caregivers or to help keep your life on track when the unexpected happens and the information and instructions necessary to know how to help you aren’t available.  More surprising was the number of things even my husband wasn’t permitted to do for me because he didn’t have my written permission – something I was unable to provide for a significant period of time.  I learned the hard way that privacy laws prohibit ANYONE from having access to many parts of my life or to act as my advocate without my written authorization – even in times of crisis.  While I was unconscious, in intensive care, a question regarding my insurance coverage arose.  Because he didn’t have my written permission, the insurance company refused to discuss the issues with my husband even though my insurance came through his employer! That was just the first of many such problems over the following weeks.


Once fully recuperated from the surgery, I was faced with preparing for the end of my life, a daunting and complicated process as it requires organizing and documenting all the important aspects of your life like finances, household matters, care of pets, etc. I’ve seen families struggle for months or even longer after a loved one’s death because they failed to prepare for the inevitable.  Worse yet, families have been torn apart by death when the deceased failed to even do the very basic preparations like make a will or put their funeral/burial wishes in writing - which isn’t the kind of legacy any of us want to leave behind when we die.


Despite predictions to the contrary, my brain tumor never returned and I made a full recovery.  The difficulties I’d experienced motivated me to find a way to make it easier for all of us to deal with the many challenges in life including illness, disabilities, medical and other emergencies, memory disorders, care giving, elder care, and even the challenges of being a single parent. The result is, a free on-line resource center that provides the information, helpful hints and tools needed to meet these challenges, including 68 one-of-a-kind downloads.  We hope that will be a valuable resource to you and those you care about as you navigate the many challenges you will face throughout your lifetime.




Deborah Dillon


Be Smart. Plan Smart. Live Smart.




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