PLANNED GIVING & CHARITABLE
Will I Be Remembered? Have I Lived a Life That Matters?
- Contributed by MontereyTrust.com
“What will I be remembered for? Having been here, have I made any difference?” Mrs. H. asked. I was visiting her, as I had every day for the past two weeks. She would pass away sometime in the next few days and our Bank was her trustee – moreover she had become a friend. Over the past two weeks we had worked together to make funeral arrangements and write an obituary. We had organized caregivers to be with her 24/7 and had made arrangements for a local organization to find good homes for her two pet cats after her death.
Those tasks were easy compared to this new question, a question that a Trust Officer hears too often, “Have I made a difference? What will I be remembered for?” Mrs. H. would surely be fondly remembered, she was a lovely woman and friendly to everyone with whom she came into contact. She was on a first name basis with the postman, the drycleaner, the banker. She was generous with local charities and with her family in Europe, and yet, the question of “what has my life meant” seems to be the question that comes to many in the last hours, days, months - if there is time to contemplate. There also seems to be a feeling that if we only had more time, we would accomplish so much more and help so many more.
Obviously the question has the spiritual component that is personal to each of us, but the question of whether the actions of our lives, the contributions we hope to have made, the fact that we were here - did it mean something, seems universal. The further question often is, “Can I leave something behind that will continue the work that I started?” We’ve dedicated our finite minutes, hours, years, to certain quests, beliefs and commitments that we hope were worthy. How can our legacy continue? Can it? Can our legacy have more far reaching benefits than we had ourselves during one short lifetime?
The answer, of course, is yes. Through proper estate planning and administration of your estate after you’ve gone on, you can perpetuate your life’s work and benefit people and organizations virtually in perpetuity.
Mrs. H.’s trust set up an educational plan for nieces and nephews so that they could pursue higher education giving them the opportunity to become contributing members of society. Her trust also benefited a local agency that takes pets that have lost their homes due to the owner’s death or illness and finds them new homes in our community. Her trust also provided bequests to a number of local charities that will use those funds to further their services to others. So, while Mrs. H. has gone, her legacy lives to benefit many others.
An estate plan is a wonderfully versatile vehicle that can be set up to continue your life’s work or dedication long after you are gone. Trusts can cater to all sorts of situations both very serious, and some on the lighter side. We’ve seen a trust established for a duck that provides for the duck’s wellbeing during his lifetime. If he takes a mate, the monthly distributions increase – (after all, at least in duck land, two can not live as cheaply as one!). We’ve held mountain cabins in trust so that remaining family members can come together to ski in the winter and hike in the summer. We’ve held assets in trust for decades so that that one son, the one that has a proclivity toward fast horses and faster women, will have something left to live on in his senior years.
While Mrs. H. is now gone, her legacy lives on in many ways. Two of her nieces are now in college; the pet agency continues to benefit our community and the many charities she contributed to continue to expand their services to those who need them. Great work, Mrs. H. Thank for living a life that matters and continuing to make a difference long after you have gone.
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