In Holland if an individual dies without direct heirs (children, grandchildren, great grandchildren) assets are taken by the state. Costs of the social welfare state are high so this is one way to help cover some of those expenses.
I had an aunt who was widowed and never had any children so she knew this rule would apply to her. I was the fortunate beneficiary of three financial gifts from her before her death, but each time she made a specific request. She did not specify how we were to spend the money, but she did ask that we do something special with it rather than using it to pay daily bills. I believe this was her way of asking to be remembered.
Few of us will have a wing of a hospital or a chair at a university with our name on it, yet we have the ability to leave a positive legacy as my aunt did. Legacy is more than money, it is the positive impression we leave when we go.
We go through life doing wonderful things for others either through our volunteer work with organizations, or just by reaching out to those who need our care individually. Yet these kind acts are often forgotten as we move away from the organizations or people who we impacted. More often we are remembered for our final actions. How can we impact how we will we be remembered?
The recurring theme of the conversations I have with people about the care they will need in their final years is that they do not want to be burdens to their families. The negative experiences they have had caring for their parents and older loved ones have made them unwilling to put their children through the same stress. The legacy of neediness and incompetence is not one that anyone wants to leave.
The questions that need to be addressed when formalizing final wishes are uncomfortable, but they must be faced sooner rather than later. Events beyond our control will cut short the time we think we have. Starting with wills and plans to finance the cost of care in retirement, we must face our increasing fragility and put our directives on paper. Taking action on our plans does not mean that amendments cannot be made if some of our decisions change.
I knew an older couple who were incredibly logical as they needed to alter their lifestyle. They downsized in stages as they found their circumstances changing and their legal documents were updated as needed. The example they left is one of maturity when making these very difficult decisions and courage as they faced their progressive decline. Surely this is the kind of legacy we would all like to leave. Czajkowski Dumpel & Associates, Inc. is here to help.