I recently attended a funeral mass for the father of a client. It was a wonderful occasion to reflect on a well lived life of more than 90 years. Our client and his siblings were able to eulogize and honor their father beautifully in what was a touching ceremony all around.

I was especially happy for this client who, recognizing that his father’s health wasn’t always going to be a certainty, had spent the last year making some extra trips back home to spend time with his Dad. Having this time to share, visit, debate and enjoy each other’s company in the time leading up to his passing must have meant a great deal to both.

I recount all this as it dawned on me during the ceremony how often we miss an opportunity in waiting until someone is gone to really reflect on their role in our lives and how fortunate our client was to not have missed that opportunity. Eulogies serve a great purpose for loved ones to share and remember all the wonderful things about those that have passed, but the greater opportunity is to share those things with those we care about while they’re still with us.

This is certainly not a new concept, but one that often makes the ever growing list we all carry around that contains our “important, but not urgent” best intentions. We take for granted that others know how much we truly value them or, even if we do feel it needs to be said, are too embarrassed, proud or just don’t have the words to explain to another person what kind of impact they’ve had in our lives.

This blog has touched on many of the important issues surrounding proper estate planning, having one’s affairs in order and ensuring that everything that can be done to carry out our wishes is in place. That’s not a message we’re likely to stop delivering any time soon. It’s a crucial component to both our financial and emotional peace of mind. All I suggest is adding letting those we care about know what we value about them to that estate planning to-do list.

Adding to these kinds of lists typically increases the potential burden and reduces the likelihood that we will actually carry them out. My hope is that this particular suggestion will actually incent us to take action. Adding something that should be rewarding for both you and those you love will hopefully move your end of life plans up your to-do list.

So, while you’re deciding who should take care of your affairs after you’re gone, how to manage your estate for minor children, whether there is sufficient insurance in place to cover your income, or any of the other many questions surrounding your estate, be sure to share not only your plans, but what makes your loved ones such a special part of your life.

The result could mean a great deal to you and those you love both during and after all are here to enjoy.

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