The Final Act of Love

When the Final Act Isn’t Love

Son #1 reached his mother’s house two days before son #2 could arrive. Son #1 loaded up all of the possessions he wanted for himself and his family and got them trucked out before his brother arrived.

Son #2 reached his mother’s house to find it looking like a burglar had rifled through everything and taken all the valuables.

Son #1 said, “You know Mother clearly said she wasn’t going to leave a will and we could fight over what we wanted. So, I’ve taken what I want for now. If you want any of what I took, fight for it.”

Son #2 gathered a few sentimental items and said, “All I want is for us to work together to settle the estate, and split what is left.”

Son #1 said, “It had better be a 50-50 split of what’s still left, or we’ll wind up in court.”

Son #2 was disgusted by it all, and made a conscious decision not to fight.

You may think I dreamed up this situation. Unfortunately, it’s what happened when my grandmother was the person who said her descendants could fight over everything.

Definitely not a loving act on her part. And the result was not loving, either.

When the Final Act Is Love

I’ve come to believe that the most loving thing any person can do for the people they will leave behind, is to get everything in order before they die.

It isn’t just about saying what you want, or where the safe deposit box key is located.

And I don’t know of anyone who likes to think about dying, or what is going to happen to their bodies after they die.

I won’t be there to comfort my loved ones when I pass. But I can help in advance by not leaving such a mess that it takes them months to sort through stuff to find the essential records to settle my affairs.

I’m not a lawyer, and laws differ from state to state. But here are some things I encourage you to consider:

— Establish a revocable living trust:

  • Everything in the trust passes to whoever you designate without going into probate. And a trust isn’t just for rich people. If you leave just a will, everything you have goes into probate. Probate for even modest estates can drain alot of the money of the deceased person, and leave their descendants much less than intended.
  • The trust contains a will for who gets what, a living will, power of attorney over healthcare (if a person is no longer able to make decisions for themselves), power of attorney over finances, instructions for guardianship and care for dependents, other documents about possessions and procedures for distribution of wealth, and funeral arrangements, etc.

— Write or leave clear instructions about financial accounts, passwords, monies owed, and financial commitments.

— List all online accounts, the information needed to access them, and how you want them closed down (notifications about your death, etc.).

— Leave information about where stuff is located: tax records, valuables, sentimental items reserved for specific people, the keys to the safe deposit box or other storage locations, and so on.

— List who to contact about the person dying. Friends, family, co-workers, organizations to which the person belonged.

It takes planning and effort to keep the information updated.

But the people who really love you may be in such grief, they can’t think straight enough to make solid decisions for a long time.

A final act of love to them can be all of the decisions and planning you do before you step into eternity. And the peace of knowing you did all you could is a great comfort as well.

My prayer is that we all love our loved ones enough to make it as easy for them as we can after we’re gone.

What things have you prepared to help your loved ones?

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Joni Vance is an award-winning author of fiction, essay, and poetry. She loves mystery, history, and how God reveals Himself every day.

May God reveal the mystery of His love in your life story.

8 thoughts on “The Final Act of Love

  1. Your advice is so important, Joni. My parents shared with me (their only child) all of their final arrangements. We have established a trust so everything passes to our kids. My husband has created a book with information they will need to close our affairs. Now my adults kids have put their affairs in order. This final act of love is also good stewardship and a profession of my Christian beliefs. Thank you, Joni.

  2. Thank you for this information. You did it so well we could just print out your blog and use it to check off what we should do. Very helpful!

  3. Very good advice, Joni. We’ve done some of this, but not all. Thanks for sharing and reminding.

    • Post Author Joni Vance

      I’m working on getting everything updated. I know peace of mind is the ultimate result. For me, and for my loved ones. Thanks for commenting.

  4. This is so important, Joni. With the passing of our parents and other relatives, I can testify that following this advise you gave can avoid so many problems.

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