It doesn’t matter what we’ve accomplished, whether we are a doctor, lawyer, general, housewife, teacher. In the end, we’re all going to have to prepare for death. We reach the conclusion that it’s not about the stuff we’ve accumulated or the paths we’ve chosen, but the people in our lives, those whom we loved. Do we have strong relationships? How are they going to remember me? What mark have I left on this world?
There’s a preacher and author named John Ortberg, who wrote a book called “When the Game is Over, It all goes back in the box” His analogy to learning to play the game of Monopoly, storing stuff up and accumulating massive wealth, was awesome…until his grandma taught him that at the end of the day, it all goes back in the box. The “stuff” doesn’t matter. But, the relationships we make, they matter.
My specialty is in estate planning. Usually that’s a pretty dry subject and very legalistic. But I want us to think about it from a different perspective. If we love the people in our lives, what is the last impression you are going to leave? In those days, weeks and months after your death or during your incapacity, are they going to be remembering you fondly, laughing about the good times? Or are they going to be cursing you for not taking care of business? Have you left them with four filing cabinets full of tax returns from the 1940s? Have you told them how you want things to be if you are incapacitated, or how you want things to look after you are dead? Have you left them with a mess to deal with, with more questions than answers? Or have you given them a roadmap to dealing with things in such a way that it is easy, do-able, workable, and not unpleasant? I want you to get to a place where you can say that you have made a plan for your family. You will not leave your spouse and kids with a mess. You will not have them cursing you as they rifle through file cabinet after file cabinet looking for that old insurance policy you took out before you shipped off to war. You will not have them wondering, as they are speaking to doctors and nurses, what would mom or dad want me to do?
Preparing an estate plan does not need to be a long, difficult process. It must, however, be done while you are still able to comprehend and communicate. Let’s get started!