At this year’s Foundation Dinner our speaker, Chuck Jacob, gave some thought-provoking insights on the reasons why we as Christians should make noble plans. As I listened to the presentation, I thought about 2 Kings 20:1, “Set thine house in order: for thou shalt die, and not live.”
We have all prayed the childhood prayer, “And if I die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take.” However, only rarely do we contemplate during evening prayer what preparations we have made with respect to our final wishes and material possessions, should we actually die before we wake. Are we going to our eternal home leaving our earthly homes in a state of chaos or of order? The answer to this inquiry is a significant one.
Hezekiah gets a clear wake-up call from the Lord when he is told “Get your house in order.” This is a command that is particularly meaningful to me. My husband, Skip, died at age 40 after only nine years of marriage. At 37 years old, I was a widow and mother of two very young boys. I can testify to the importance of “putting your house in order.”
Based on my life experiences, I encourage everyone to initiate or review his or her estate plans. Once you have taken the steps to get your house in order, it is also important to maintain that order over the course of your life. For example, after Skip’s death, new plans were needed. I had a new will prepared and purchased a new life insurance policy.
While you are living, it is very important to organize and communicate what actions are to occur upon your death. Who should be called? Where are your important documents kept? Where is the list of monthly and annual bills due and payable? What is the name of your lawyer and accountant? Did you plan your funeral? Did you purchase a burial plot and if so, where?
You may be thinking, “I know, I know, it’s on my to-do list” or asking “How do I begin this process or update my existing, but outdated plans?” You can begin by calling the Foundation at Second, and they can point you in the right direction. Just last fall, the Foundation invited a local attorney to come and tell us in clear simple terms what steps to take. The presentation was in terms we all understood. We talked about ownership of property, asset protection for underage children, life insurance, and charitable giving. If you missed it or need a refresher, the presentation is available at 2pcfoundation.org/presentation.
Every participant left the room more knowledgeable about what issues we needed to think about and what legal, accounting, and insurance actions needed to be taken, implemented, or reviewed. We learned that the time expended and costs incurred to prepare for death are very reasonable. We also all agreed that the time and costs associated with a decedent’s estate can become very unreasonable in the event no plans are made prior to death.
Each year, I have found it helpful to review a summary of all my estate plans at an annual meeting with family. My lawyer and accountant/financial representative are available to review my estate plans to see if changes or additions are needed based on changes in law, family, and interests in property and possessions. Consider this action whether you are single or married, young, or old.
Remember, planning and the communication of your plan are the best gifts you can give to your survivors.