Recently my dad relayed to my sister and I that after his death, he has a playlist of songs he wants all of us kids to have to remember him by. He went on to say that he has an individual song for all eight of us. As an estate planning attorney, I asked him if he had written this playlist down. He had not, but he said he would. (In 10 years as an estate planning attorney, that is the most interest my dad has ever shown in doing his own estate plan.) My sister then asked what song he thought of for me, but he would not say.
Talking to my sister later, I expressed that it would be disappointing if he never writes this all down, or if we cannot locate the list when he dies. Her take on this was it would be nice to share that connection with each other while we are alive. Why do we have to wait until he dies?
This week I was meeting with a client who talked about how she had inherited family heirlooms and how she wanted them to pass to her brother’s family when she dies. However, she actually plans on giving specific items to her family now so she can see them enjoy them while she is alive. I think my sister would say, “Bravo!” to that.
This has also come up in conversations with my clients in the context of monetary gifts to loved ones and charities. Although you should certainly consider what you need to live on, if you feel like you have enough, you do not have to wait until you die to share. Lifetime giving provides the added benefit of getting to see the fruits and enjoyment of your generosity.
While I will always counsel people, including my dad, to write down their wishes for after their death, we can ease the upcoming transition for our families and friends by fulfilling some of those wishes while we are alive.
For now, I will keep reminding my dad to write down his playlist, and get a true estate plan going.
If you are in need of an estate plan to document and fulfill your wishes, contact PBWS Law at 505.872.0505.