Decisions that matter
In my personal and professional life, I have stumbled upon some things I think might be useful.
So, I want to encourage readers to join me in the crusade to get our affairs in order, so that we can enjoy our last days on this earth without worrying about those we leave behind.
We all need a health care directive (i.e. living will), in which we should clearly state what we want and do not want health professionals to do, as they assume responsibility over us in a failing condition. Everyone should make these decisions for themselves. Tell your family.
Next, we should all review our financial affairs.
We found out years after my dad died that part of the property he’d acquired while married to my stepmom was only deeded to him alone. Thus, I actually already owned the parcel as the biological son, not his widow. He loved our Rosie and would not have consciously made such an omission. It was a friendly handshake that led a chap to tell his lawyer to sell such-and-so-in-so to Mr. Farmer. While trying to get affairs in order for my stepmom in her latter years, we had to get an attorney to prepare a gift-deed to restore the land in order for its value to provide for her.
Take out your will, note appropriate addenda, memoranda. Is it still applicable? Is the executor still available? Has some far-off trust officer become an 800-push-l for English, system? Time for review? How has life’s past few years caused you to reconsider projected dispositions? Did clauses relative to minor children now make it obsolete? Let your estate inheritors know of your decisions. In cases where feathers are going to be ruffled by decisions that only we can make, don’t cause loved ones to fight over possessions, declarations we have chosen.
Give your chosen funeral director a call to discuss prearrangements and perhaps in some cases, prepayment. Ascertain what financial matters matter. Do you wish to be embalmed, buried, cremated, scattered abroad over sea and/or land? Families arriving often from out of town are faced with difficult decisions at a most delicate time. It is not fair to shove such an important project upon them.
Do you have a cemetery lot in a far-off location? Still planning to be buried there? Is that information in your last things portfolio? What decisions, responsibilities and how do these impact a latter marriage, your biological and step families?
If your earlier spouse died and you have remarried how do all these things now relate to the blended families: i.e. stepchildren, adopted children and in some cases aging parents for whom we now have care responsibilities?
Talk to your pastors/ministers or whomsoever you expect to conduct your memorial service. If you will be taken back to a former hometown do you anticipate your local minister traveling there? How would you like to be remembered? What type of service would you prefer? Can that clergyperson honor your wishes within the integrity of one’s calling, theological bent?
Write your own obituary: a long one (brag all you wish) and also a shorter version. Check the facts. In which newspapers do you wish them to appear? Costs should be considered.
Gather all your reviewed and modified papers into a pile and have copies made. Put a complete set in your bank lockbox. But, keep a copy handy and let your loved ones know of its whereabouts. By the time most families get to a lockbox they have already completed funeral arrangements and services. Get the info into their hands without them having to do research.
Are there favorite Biblical passages, songs, poems, readings, that you feel would enhance your memorial service? Write them down. If the person you anticipate doing your memorial service is not available, is there another you’d wish to take the place?
It wouldn’t be nice of me not to suggest that you get your spiritual life in order as well. After all, I am a Baptist pastor. Have you had a personal exchange with God’s only Son Jesus, which gives you the comfort of knowing that not only are all of your earthly affairs in order, so also are your eternal affairs.
Everyone reading this letter can add issues to the list, suggestions for better remedies in order for all of us to depart in stellar stewardship; but I did title this epistle decisions that matter. Thus, I digress. Please move the spiritual inventory to the top of your list. In the possible happenstance that we should die before we accomplish any or all of the above, at least we shall hear the master say, “Well done and welcome home my good and faithful servant.” You know, that just might be the best obituary for which one could hope.
It is not too late to add spiritual insurance to life insurance. Everybody I know who has life insurance dies. Why not call it death insurance? Only those with spiritual insurance live on beyond the pale of human existence….
…Says so in the Bible, don’t you know?