EDITORIAL ADVISORY BOARD: Plan for your death, help your heirs

2013-06-16T00:00:00Z EDITORIAL ADVISORY BOARD: Plan for your death, help your heirsBy Shar Miller nwitimes.com
June 16, 2013 12:00 am  • 

Just weeks before my father died suddenly last fall, I distinctly remember Harry Vande Velde, president and CEO of the Legacy Foundation, saying, “It’s not if you die, it’s when." We should plan for that event as well as we plan for all the others in our lives.

My father was prepared. We had met as a family the year before with a trust lawyer, who advised us everything was fine. They had established a trust years before, and no changes were needed. Everyone knew where papers were kept and how we were to proceed. My mother was well taken care of – as were we. The hardest part was writing his obituary. We revised it twice.

My father did us a huge favor and invested some time and money to make things easier for us when the day came. We found files with the insurance policies, annuities and bank accounts neatly organized. There was a page on passwords for all the online accounts with answers to security questions. There were electronic documents he had prepared on his family history. Even preparing my mother’s tax return was a breeze as we had 50 years' worth, in binders, to look back and compare.

After the actual funeral, there were cash donations we had received. We chose to make a gift in his name to our local park for improvements. Their neighborhood has seen better days, and we had spent much of our childhood playing at that park. Now there will be new lighting and landscaping. And by Christmas, my mother was ready to donate his clothes. She helped us take them to a homeless shelter.

I believe my involvement with Legacy Foundation gave me insight on how to suggest a great use for that money and one he would have been proud of. Here in Northwest Indiana, Legacy Foundation provides us an opportunity to establish a number of different kinds of trusts, annuities or funds that will benefit the Foundation (and you) in the future. You can even name the foundation as one of the beneficiaries of your estate, insurance policy or qualified retirement plan. Make a difference in your community.

Charitable acts are deeply personal, but if you feel passionately about one or more organizations or nonprofits, include a gift to them in your will. The good that money will do after you are gone is immense. Think about what you want your legacy to be.

It was Wednesday, Oct. 24, that my father, Fred Schulz, went out to a park alongside the Saginaw River to watch fishermen that afternoon. He was found having had an apparent heart attack by a concerned citizen. Peaceful.

I was impressed then and continue to be as I realize how his life ended so beautifully. And I was comforted knowing he loved his family enough to know we were taken care of once he was gone.

Shar Miller is president of Prompt Ambulance Service. The opinions are the writer's.

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