+ Rev. Keith Pearson, ELCA Foundation Regional Gift Planner
OK, so with “Social Distancing” and “Self-Quarantine” recommendations in place you suddenly have a lot of time on your hands. And with the added restrictions on travel, this means a lot of time spent at home. You can either look at this as a curse or a blessing. I tend to be more of a “glass half full” kind of person and so I want to treat it as a blessing. So, what will you do with this sudden and unexpected gift of time?
This past weekend I used that gift of time to complete the final steps in a remodeling project at home. It seems there was always something more important or more fun to do than paint the laundry room. But, this was something my wife had been hoping I’d find the time to get to for some time now. Seems I have a lot of nearly-finished projects out there.
As I then began to think about what would be next among the various projects I’ve been putting off “until I have the time” I realized there was one that needed to find its way to the top of the list. It was something I’ve been meaning to get to. It is something my wife and I know we need to do together. Now that our daughter is grown up it is something that time demands we do. It’s time we update our will and other estate plans.
Experts recommend you update your will at least every five years (Full disclosure: It’s been close to 25 since we reviewed ours). You should also review it every time you have a major event or milestone in your life. Those milestones may be things from early in life like a new job, a new house, or a new child. They may be things later in life like a child reaching adulthood, retirement or selling off a business, or the death of a loved one. The needs of your loved ones in your care also change at the passing of each milestone. Each milestone is cause to reevaluate your final plans.
This is also a good time, now that you’ve got some time on your hands, to talk with your loved ones about your finances, your wishes for your health care and your choices about how you want things done at end of life. Do they know your wishes? Do you have both medical and financial powers of attorney in place so these wishes can be carried out? Do you have not only an updated will, but one that has a Christian preamble – a final statement to your loved ones about the power of faith in your life that frames and gives meaning to the things (wealth and assets) that you’ve collected and may be leaving in their care?
God has a way of taking “curses” and turning them into blessings. Maybe this is what God is calling you to do with this gift of time. You don’t even have to leave home to do it. There are lots of good, free resources online to help you have the conversation with your loved ones and to assemble the details you will need to either create the documents yourself or (better yet) minimize the cost to have them professionally done. You have the gift of time. Make use of it to plan for the day when you will no longer have time.
Keith Pearson is the ELCA Foundation’s Regional Gift Planner in Western Minnesota. His services are available at no charge to those interested in developing estate plans and legacy gifts to local congregations, ministries of the ELCA, and other charitable causes. He can be reached at 612-718-4197 or [email protected].
ELCA Foundation Resources: https://www.elca.org/Give/ELCA-Foundation/Services-for-Members (click on the “Bequests” button and download “Will and Trust Workbook” and “Important Notes about my Estate: A helpful guide for family and friends”)
Minnesota Attorney General’s Office Resources:
- https://www.ag.state.mn.us/Consumer/Publications/PowersOfAttorney.asp for information and further links to information about Financial Powers of Attorney.
- https://www.ag.state.mn.us/Consumer/Handbooks/Probate/ for “Probate and Planning: A Guide to Planning for the Future” – information on wills, living trusts, Powers of Attorney, Health Care Directives, etc.
Minnesota Legal Services Coalition Resources: https://www.lawhelpmn.org/self-help-library/fact-sheet/planning-ahead for “Planning Ahead” fact sheet and associated links.