Family Friday: In case of my death

tombThat’s the title of a document on my computer desktop.

“In case of my death.”

It’s there for my family, only one click away on my non-password protected computer.

I’m a pastor. I frequently sit down with grieving families who are forced to make difficult decisions in their grief. I don’t want to be the plumber with the leaky faucet in his house. I don’t want my family to be faced with questions that I’m an expert at answering.

My wife knows about my document on my computer. She also knows what information is contained in its two pages:

1) The location of our will.
You’d better have a will. They’re not expensive. Expensive is NOT having a will.

We have one copy, and our attorney has another copy. His contact information is included in my document.

2) Life insurance information.
Do you have life insurance? I have lots of it. That’s because I have two children still at home. If something should happen to me today, our house would be paid for, our daughters’ college education would be covered, and my wife would not have to work a single day in her long life.

3) Bills and income.

I pay the bills in our family. I record receipts and balance the checkbook. My intelligent wife is fully capable of doing this, but I’ve chosen to do it for our family. In my document, I’ve specified every monthly bill she can expect as well as every scheduled automatic withdrawal. I’ve also identified all of our sources of income (including modest royalties on books).

4) Funeral arrangements.
You are the only one who knows what kind of funeral you want. Write it down. Choose to be buried instead of cremated (a future blog post). Identify clearly where you wish to be buried. Better yet: purchase your burial plot today. Record your favorite Scripture passages and songs. Name those you’d like to speak at your funeral. “I don’t care” is not a good answer. This forces your family to make decisions on your behalf.

Have you made all of this information available to your family?

A few years ago we conducted a three-hour “aging seminar” at my church. We sensed a need to inform and equip our people regarding end-of-life issues. The seminar addressed estate planning, financial planning, and caring for elderly loved ones. We had a world-class estate planning attorney, a world-class financial planner, and a non-world-class pastor (that’s me). We even included a Physician Assistant to field end-of-life medical questions during our concluding panel of experts.

The seminar was excellent, with one exception: only 35 people were in attendance. Why so few? Because we would rather selfishly pass these responsibilities on to others after we’re gone than unselfishly face our own mortality.

Please do the unselfish thing. Put on your big boy (or girl) pants and prepare your document.

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5 responses to “Family Friday: In case of my death

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