It is certain, you shall not carry anything out of this world, except maybe your reputation. Did you hear the story about Alfred Nobel? When Nobel's brother died, a newspaper ran a long obituary of Alfred Nobel, believing that it was he who had passed away. Sentences in the obituary similar to this one horrified Mr. Nobel, "He was the inventor of dynamite, which was used to kill thousands upon thousands of people." After reading his own obituary, Alfred Nobel realized he wanted to improve his reputation and that is why he established and funded the now world famous Nobel Peace Prize.
Your obituary, funeral and estate plan are usually your last opportunity to solidify, improve or change your reputation. Many of my clients tell me that they are writing their own obituaries and planning some, if not all, of the details of their funerals. In fact, I encourage them to do so. Personally, I have gone so far as to select the photo I want published in my funeral program – a glamour shot that I took a few years ago.
As mere human beings existing in an imperfect world, we are bound to make mistakes, poor choices and experience unfortunate occurrences. One way I try to help people deal with their life issues and concerns is by sharing the legal options available to them through estate planning. It all starts with honesty. You have to share the not so pleasant truths (if any) in order to address any legal issues that could arise after your demise. When surprises arise after someone's death either because of family secrets or failure to address underlying problems, they always create complications and personal grief for the family, not to mention the negative effect on the reputation of the deceased.
A well drafted estate plan can confirm and attest to the fact that a person was a good steward over those things that he or she has been blessed with. It can also be an opportunity to right wrongs, make peace, demonstrate love, and share one's blessings with others. Once you pass away, your things are no longer yours, but belong to the living; however, those things written in your obituary and your estate plan can insure that your reputation is one you can be proud of.
© 2014 by Marlene S. Cooper. All rights reserved.