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January 30, 2010 / BrianOFlan

Die well

Everybody dies.  Its a guarantee.

Most of us hate to focus on death, pain and sadness.  That’s good.  Plenty of that comes along without us dwelling on it.

We had better not ignore it or pretend it’s not going to happen.  I know it can be intimidating but what’s worse:  Facing it or procrastinating getting our affairs in order?  Spend a few minutes clearly and reasonably addressing the issue so you don’t leave a disorganized disaster to your survivors.

Everyone says you need a will and life insurance and other important documents to minimize your posthumous purgatory in probate court.  If you have kids, you need to pay attention to how their mother will provide for them without you.  If you are married, you want to leave your spouse as well as possible.  If you are a free wheeling single, you can decide whether or not your own parents or siblings should have anything besides debts to remember you by.  In any case you may want to avoid spoiling your relatives or leaving them impoverished.  You may want to give a bump to a charity you care about.  You may want a statue and museum erected in your former residence, devoted to the brief majesty of your self importance.

My father in law told me to take a class at church:  Winning at Work & Home.  What kind of loser is so obviously begging for remedial education like this that his wife’s family tells him so?  The class is part of a series on authentic manhood by Rev. Dr. Robert Lewis (1).  Authentic manhood?  What kinds of stories is Christa telling her people?  My manhood is authentic enough, thank you very much.  I’ll take the class to promote family harmony.

Class 6 of 16 wraps up a section on winning financially.  It concludes with something sweet:  A love letter to my wife.  You write a love letter and include important financial details (bank account numbers, internet banking passwords, etc.) in appendices.  You keep this letter (prime identity theft material) in a safe or safety deposit box.  The class ended with sniffles from all the husbands envisioning their bereaved widows opening up the family lock box in weepy bewilderment over all these bills she now gets to pay on her own.  There on top of every useful and carefully organized financial document is a letter, P.S. I Love You style, expressing your disembodied but undying love for her and talking her through some next steps.

I usually postpone writing important things indefinitely.  I want to be prepared.  I want to do my research.  I want to draft and revision and start all over a couple times.

But dying is the most important violation of the Boy Scout’s motto.  You can’t thoroughly prepare.  You don’t know when or how it will come to you, how terribly soon.  You can see what to do about your impoverished soul and that’s about it.

I’m going to write this letter quickly.  If I survive the week or month, I can draft an improvement.  Does anyone have a good estate lawyer?

Last night the wife said,
“Oh boy, when you’re dead,
You won’t take nothin’ with you but your soul.”  (2)

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