Don’t Do It For Yourself, Do It For Them
By Sheronda Wesley
Poof! You’re gone! Just like that – you’re gone. No cloud of smoke, no nothing. Gone from the face of the earth. No, you weren’t abducted by aliens. You didn’t get swallowed up by a giant sinkhole on a dark, deserted road. You weren’t spirited away by some invisible force. No, nothing as mysterious as that. You’re gone because you died. Suddenly – without any warning. No signs, no symptoms. No notice. No nothing. You were healthy, or reasonably healthy, one moment and dead the next. Too often, that’s how quickly it happens. A massive heart attack. An accident. An aneurysm. There are any number of reasons you could be here one moment and gone the next. And when death happens like that – suddenly, unexpectedly, a trail of disaster can be the biggest most difficult legacy you leave for your loved ones. A legacy that gets dumped right at their feet – crippling them and rendering them unable to move at a time when they will be expected to stand tall and make sense of the legal and financial morass you have bequeathed to them.
Is that really what you want for those you love? Their world as they knew it has been forever altered because you will no longer be a part of it. It’s come to a screeching halt; they have to keep moving at a time when it might take all of the inner strength they can muster to just wake up, put one foot in front of the other, and navigate the choppy waters of their day without you. Why place an additional burden on them by asking them or expecting them to take care of your final business matters when you can do most of it yourself before your death? Even when you have been forewarned and are facing the eventuality of death from a terminal illness, you can take this burden from them.
Our lives have become ever so complex and complicated. Technology was supposed to make our lives simpler, and in many respects it has. When was the last time any of us saw a paper paycheck? When was the last time you were actually inside the lobby of a bank and not just in the anteroom to go to the Automated Teller Machine (ATM)? We can conduct just about all of our banking without ever setting foot in a bank building. We can order our groceries and have them delivered. We can shop at any of our favorite stores without going to the mall – while we’re still in our pajamas. We can email our physician in the wee hours of the morning when something just doesn’t feel right, and have a phone call response when they arrive at their office in the morning. If we can’t sleep at night there is a staggering array of cable channels to entertain and relax us.
But all of this technology that has so vastly simplified our lives comes with a cost. It has also made our lives more complex and intricate. Our lives are a maze of highways and byways that we crisscross and travel daily while on autopilot until something causes it all to come screeching to a sudden stop. In this case – death is that determining factor.
Benjamin Franklin wrote, “In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” They are both inevitable; however, the intricacies of taxes, financial issues, and other final business matters can all be mitigated by carefully planning ahead of time. Another important phrase is widely attributed to Alan Lakein, author of self-help books on time management. He said, “Failing to plan is planning to fail.”
So take matters into your own hands. Be proactive, plan now and take control of your affairs. It’s not just about a last will and testament. Sometimes it’s the smallest, most minute detail that can wind up being so problematic. Does your family know all the people you might want notified of your death? Do they know who you want to have your heirloom collection? Who gets your father’s military medals? Simplify things for them now. Don’t leave them guessing, wondering, and missing things that can be costly mistakes.
I can help you create a journal that will leave a clear path of your final business matters for your family to follow. It’s a non-legal document that simply lets your family know exactly what to do if you were to leave this earth tomorrow, never to return.
Mrs. Wesley brings 27 years of experience in the income tax services, banking and accounting fields. She has owned her own tax preparation firm since 2007 where she also practices tax litigation and representation as an Enrolled Agent. She holds a dual Master’s degree in Accounting and Financial Management as well as a federal license to represent taxpayers before the IRS. Working with clients in such a highly confidential capacity, she often found herself there to assist families during the loss of their loved one. This was a natural transition to her current role as an estate closer since she was already a valued and trusted asset to the family. Mrs. Wesley currently serves in the role of Estate Closer and Daily Money Manager with the purpose of assisting families through the challenge of having to deal with a loved one’s business matters, while going through their period of grief.