Estate Planning: A Poignant Portrait of a Father’s Final Gift

A post by a reader whose father had recently passed away is a poignant tribute by a daughter to a father who left her with a lasting legacy of love through careful estate planning.  In the post, she shares what her father did to make his passing easier on her and her brothers:

Build a team.  The author’s father, diagnosed with stage four colon cancer just a few months after retirement, built a strong team of financial advisers and insisted that his daughter meet each one of them.  After he passed, she says, these connections were invaluable – she knew whom to call and they knew her.

Plan ahead.  When he was still healthy, the author’s father added his daughter to his bank accounts and put her name on his checks.  When he began to fail, this made it much easier for her to handle his bills.  He also made sure there was enough money in the account to pay bills in case his house did not sell for two years.

Prepare for the end.  When the author could not bring herself to discuss her father’s funeral wishes with him, he created a master binder and simply told her that his final wishes would be listed under “F” for “funeral”.   He even authored his own obituary, including photos to use with the text.

Settle accounts.  The author’s father urged her to take an executor’s commission of 2 to 3 percent, which she declined.  Once he passed, she had second thoughts, since she found that being an executor is a big job.  When she and her brothers went to split his IRA, she found that he had stipulated in the beneficiary forms that she was to receive 1 percent more than her brothers for her job as executor.  In doing so, he preserved her relationship with her brothers and let her know he valued the job she was doing as executor.

Finally, the author notes that, “I honestly consider my father’s financial planning to be a selfless act of love.”  Estate planning is much more than distributing assets; it is very often a lasting gift to those you love and an enduring part of the legacy you leave behind.

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