October is the month when we see a lot of change taking place in the earth all around us. Trees lose their leaves, flowers die, and everything seems to become dark and dreary. We know that there will be another spring; but, at this time, people’s thoughts are turned more toward the end of things.
Perhaps it’s appropriate that October is Estate Planning Month.
We know that our lives will come to an end some day. It would be wise for us to consider that reality and make plans not only for our death but for the provision of the loved ones and/or favorite causes we will leave behind.
As a priest for over thirty-seven years, I can tell you that planning for your own death saves your loved ones a lot of anxiety at the time they grieve you the most. Knowing that you have specified all of your plans and, perhaps, even prepaid for everything is an incredible relief to those you leave behind.
I have seen that happen often. I have also seen the anxiety that takes place when no arrangements have been made and families have to scramble to get things done. They often end up second-guessing themselves for months, if not years, afterward.
Making provisions for what will happen to your estate after your death is important. If nothing is done, estates tend to go into probate in many states and some, if not much, of your money will go to county and state government rather than to people or places you might have desired to receive portions of your estate.
There are many lawyers who practice estate law and who could help you make plans for your eventual demise.
I know what some of you might be saying right about now: What about you? Do you practice what you preach? Have you made any provisions or are you just telling us what we should do?
Well, to be very honest with you, it was in 1995 while I was the pastor at St. Maria Goretti that I made funeral arrangements. My mother had passed away the year prior and my father was diagnosed with cancer. I thought I should have my affairs in order so I met with a local funeral home and preplanned and prepaid for my funeral as well as the opening/closing of my cemetery grave.
After I made funeral arrangements, I had my first will drawn up. I have modified it a couple of times through the years but everything is in order and my staff knows where all the paperwork — Living Will, Health Care Representative Designation, Will, and Funeral Arrangements — is located in my office file cabinet.
It’s not a morbid exercise. It is simply the right thing to do. Truth be told, it gives the person who prepares peace of mind because his or her wishes are spelled out and the people and/or institutions they wish to be gifted after their deaths are specifically designated.
Give yourself a little peace of mind. If you are at the appropriate age to do so, make arrangements.