Last Words

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BY: ANDREW STEWART 

Last words have always fascinated people.

Perhaps we hope they hold an echo of wisdom or a biting witticism, or at least a hint about who’s getting what in the will. A few examples of famous last words from some historical figures.

Bob Marley, musician: “Money can’t buy life.”

Leonard Nimoy, actor: “A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. LLAP.” Technically, this was Leonard Nimoy’s last tweet, so they may not be his actual last words.

Leonardo da Vinci, inventor and painter: “I have offended God and mankind because my work did not reach the quality it should have.”

Why are our last words so important? We go through our whole lives saying what we think, how we feel, what we believe in, even reciting other people’s last words. Do we learn anything from them? Another form of last words is what people say about us after our spirits have left this earth, better known as a Eulogy. If you were to die today what would your obituary say?  What words would be shared at your funeral?  Though a somber thought, thinking about this eventual fact of life makes me and perhaps you too ponder our legacy. Have you noticed that when people die, their eulogies celebrate life very differently from the way we define success in our everyday existence? Defining success beyond money and power to include well-being, wisdom and our willingness to give is not hard to live, but it’s very easy not to as well. It’s easy to use work as a definition of ourselves. It’s easy to let technology wrap us in a make-believe, stressed-out existence.

The eulogy is the foundational document of our legacy, of how people remember us, of how we live on in the minds and hearts of others. What will be your legacy? Why not consider and design your legacy by identifying the key relationships in your life and describe how you want to be remembered by each person. Spending time writing this out clarifies priorities, helps in discerning and enables you to say yes to the things that matter most and no to the things that take you away from your true calling more easily.

We must also think about and address our financial final words. What happens to our money, property, and debt when we die? While there isn’t one answer for everyone’s situation, there are some common rules of thumb when it comes to a person’s finances after they die. Wills are a very important document if you wish to have some control over what happens to your assets (money, investments, property, etc.) when you die. This is especially true if you have children, grandchildren, or even siblings who might disagree over certain aspects of your estate (which is what your assets are called upon your death).

Debt; Unfortunately, regardless of whether or not you create a will, your estate will most likely be used to pay off any debts you still owe before it can be distributed to your loved ones. How your estate is used to pay off these debts depends largely on the type of debt you owe. Adjusting to life after we are gone for our family is not easy. To help you deal with that situation, there are some important financial areas that you will need to think about and take control of.

  • Taking over the household bills and budget
  • Deal with any cards, loans or mortgage debts
  • Taking over the insurance
  • Planning your finances for the future

If you have joint life insurance or your own insurance, you should contact the provider to update your policy. You may need to change the beneficiaries of the policy, or even change the amount of coverage it gives. If you don’t have life insurance, this is a good time to start looking into getting one.

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