Preparing to Pass and How to Leave Things Behind

Preparing to Pass & How to Leave Things Behind. By Jacki—25 May, 2023

Last week I heard of two Family members who just went on to their reward. Besides that I heard of two others that passed in recent years that was new to me. And in the last several years there’s been a good number who have “finished their course”—both young & old, so this isn’t just for old people J. Two of the most significant times in our entire lives are: When we’re born, and when we return to Heaven. We can’t do much to prepare for our arrival here, but we can do something to prepare for the great “return” which is only a “once in a lifetime” event & really does deserve some thought & preparation—but people don’t talk about it much.

I had occasionally thought to myself, “I should prepare a ‘Last Will & Testament’, & I should get my stuff in order, & I should decide where I’ll be buried & get that covered financially.” But never did anything about it until a dear friend & brother passed last year suddenly from a heart attack, & that really impacted me & moved me to action to “get it together.” That’s actually mentioned a number of times in the Bible that before you pass you should “set your house in order” to prepare to pass. 2Ki.20:1. The Patriarchs before passing put their house in order, gathered their heirs & prayed a blessing over them.

The main thing that prompted me to get it done was because it makes it so much easier on those who are left behind—who not only have to manage the funeral, the burial & all those details—but are heartbroken & grieving on top of it. It just really makes things so much more difficult on loved ones to have to pick up the pieces after you’re gone & who are grieving at the same time. So out of love for those remaining behind, get everything taken care beforehand to avoid more grief, heartbreak & even confusion at the worst possible timing.

To illustrate, I will put here the story of our dear brother who passed. About 3:00 a.m. in the morning he sat bolt upright in bed suffering a massive heart attack, fell on the floor & passed immediately. His wife called an ambulance who arrived and they asked for his burial contract & papers. Unfortunately, there was none and the ambulance apologized and said they had to leave as according to the law they have to have these papers in order to take the body to the hospital and proceed. So the wife then resorted calling a close friend to help with the situation. The friend already had a contract for his passing, ie, burial, funeral, ambulance & had taken care of all those arrangements. He called the funeral home owner and asked if she could do him a favor & grant them a contract although not having paid yet so an ambulance could come take the body and they could proceed with the burial. She agreed. They then called another ambulance to come pick up the body—hours later & after much stress & grief. You’ve got to take care of all the legal paper work, have a doctor sign, get the death certificate & other details required by law. Sometimes we don’t realise all the hoops we have to jump through and legalities in place—so better to put the time & effort into taking care of things ahead of time!

Another important thing is to keep up with paying your bills as this dear brother had left some things hanging that the loved ones left behind needed to chip in together to get things paid off. Also, get your papers, bills, responsibilities organized & let at least one other person, usually your mate, know the state of your affairs including bills, debts, mortgages, loans & unfinished business. This not only clarifies things, but in the case of wills, if things are not spelled out clearly, can cause fighting between family members & even tear families apart, as I’ve seen a number of times as they argue over the inheritance. In my case, I made a will specifying who is my beneficiary because I don’t want everything just to go to the government, which is what would happen!

Also things might change. I’ve changed my will a couple of times. I’m living in a foreign country & I don’t have kids or family here. There are also no Family members in my country. So I’m leaving my funds & property & my car to a volunteer who has helped me extensively & he has a passion for the needy & I trust him to disperse the funds & goods to the right people. Flexibility is important if the Lord shows you to change your will.

Now this section might be sensitive for some….but it’s regarding leaving everything to your kids. One person’s opinion about this was, “Don’t leave everything to your kids. Leave some, because maybe they’ll just go out & blow it all. You can leave part to your kids & part to a non-profit, leave it to a charitable organization, leave it to your church, leave it to somebody who’s going to use it to make this world a better place.” The idea is to designate what you’re leaving behind to continue blessing & investing in God’s Kingdom. Even after you’re gone & in Heaven, you can still be helping people on earth—you could donate to the Activated Ministries & be getting the Word out & saving souls even though you’ve passed. Or give it to missionaries. It’s something to pray about. Every case is different. Here’s a quote from an article about leaving an inheritance, “The other way that our stewardship can outlast the years we have on earth is by leaving money to ministries. Indeed leaving an inheritance to children is a good thing (Proverbs 13:22), but leaving some of it to serve God’s kingdom purposes might be even better.” (From Bible.Org) By the way, my parents did not leave me an inheritance because I was serving the Lord which they didn’t agree with, & they were millionaires. What did that teach me? Everything that comes to us, or doesn’t come to us, is the Lord’s design, & it helped me to keep my eyes on the Lord & not on money.

Opening a Living Trust: What is a Living Trust?: “A living trust, or revocable trust, is a legal arrangement that you can use to transfer assets both during your lifetime and to your heirs. Many people choose to set up a trust because of its flexibility, since it can be easily changed as necessary if circumstances change during your life. This is an arrangement where you can put your money in a Trust Fund with requirements attached for the beneficiaries.” For example, if the children left behind inherit the father’s businesses, the children have to give a certain percentage of the profits to the poor to remain eligible to keep the business. (You can find out more about a Living Trust on-line.)

The wishes of the dead, are dead wishes. In other words, you have to put it in writing & make it legal. So however you want your legacy to roll out, you will need to make it binding & official so the law--& your wishes--will be sure to be carried out the way you want it to. You will have to invest time to visit a lawyer & notary to get this done, but it will be worth it.

Here are some of the steps I took to prepare for my own “Graduation”:

1.) I made out a will (you can find samples on the internet) & listed who should receive what (little) money I have. Who gets all the items in my apartment. Who gets my car. I’m not living in my home country, but in a foreign country, & I don’t have relatives that I can leave things to. If you’re in your home country then probably your spouse or other relatives will manage everything that’s left behind. I renew my will yearly & a photocopy of my passport & I.D. is attached to the will. If you do not make a will & where you want your assets to go—then they might all end up going to the government & you don’t want that! (By the way, when talking about this with a Family member whose husband passed last year, they are having a very hard time getting the money from his bank account. To avoid this you can have a joint account, or sign a legal paper with the bank for the money to be passed on if someone dies. It’s called a “transfer-on-death-account.) Each country/bank may be different so you’ll need to inquire.)

2) At a church cemetery in the country I live in they make pre-arrangements for a burial (I’m not sure if all countries do). I paid for the ambulance, hospital coverage, the coffin & my “shelf”. They didn’t have burial plots left, but they have a building with shelves. Kind of like an apartment building for the dead. In some countries you can be cremated, which is cheaper, but no cremation in my country.

3.) A close friend (a local) has all the receipts & proof that all my burial arrangements have been paid for, and there is some cash to cover extra bills that might come up. My friend also has the phone number & email address of my “next of kin” in the States to let them know I have passed.

So as much as possible, I think everything is covered & that will make it easier on both my family & those left behind in case I pass. Below is some advice I found on-line on putting everything in order that you might find helpful.

Estate Planning: 11 things to do before you die. By Michelle Kaminsky.
Even people with modest assets can benefit from end-of-life planning, which encompasses much more than just writing a last will and testament. As we all know, death doesn't discriminate by age or any other factor. A little forethought now about how you would like things to go once you're incapacitated or gone can give you great peace of mind now, as well as spare your loved ones a lot of hassle later.

  1. Gather important documents and contact information.

Property deeds, vehicle titles, official certificates (birth, marriage, etc.), the contact information for your attorney, insurance broker, doctor—all of these are things you can gather and put in the same, safe place now to make it easier for your loved ones later. As a bonus, getting all these materials together should also make compiling your estate plan easier, as you will have a lot of the necessary information at your fingertips.

  1. Execute a last will and testament

A will is one of the most important estate planning documents you can have, as it details where you would like your property to go after your death. Unless you make a will or trust, you are leaving things up to your state's intestacy laws, which apply when someone dies without a will or trust. And you should not assume that the state will make the same choices you would. When you create a will, you (the testator) name an estate executor: a person you trust to handle the distribution of your estate. You can also name a legal guardian for any minor children, as well as leaving instructions for the care of your pets.

  1. Complete a living will or advance directive

A living will or advance directive is a legal document in which you list your preferences should you become incapacitated or otherwise unable to express your preferences yourself. Issues addressed in living wills generally include breathing tubes, feeding tubes, and other life-sustaining medical treatments.

  1. Put in place a power of attorney

A durable power of attorney allows you to name someone to be in charge of making financial decisions for you if you become incapacitated. A health care power of attorney works hand-in-hand with a living will to help ensure that your wishes regarding medical treatment are followed. A Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) authorization may also be necessary to allow others to speak with doctors and nurses about your condition.

  1. Consider a living trust

A living trust can be a great way for you to make sure your wishes are followed after your death, as well as possibly allowing for a faster distribution of your assets to beneficiaries, avoiding probate court, and keeping your financial affairs private. With a living trust, you (as the grantor) retain control over any property placed within the trust throughout your lifetime. Upon your death, your pre-chosen successor trustee gains control of the trust and will then distribute your assets according to your instructions—all bypassing probate, which can save both time and money.

  1. Update your beneficiaries

If you have life insurance, retirement accounts, pensions, or pay-on-death (POD), or transfer-on-death accounts, make sure your beneficiaries are up to date, as these accounts transfer according to their beneficiary designations; your last will does not control them. Any time your family situation changes is a good time to review your beneficiaries.

  1. Secure your digital assets

Along with online bank, investment, and shopping accounts, many people also have social media accounts that need handling upon the death of the owner. Facebook, for instance, has a special section in which you can select someone to take over your account upon your passing, but you should also think about what you want to happen with websites, blogs, and any other online activities in which you participate.

  1. Plan final arrangements

Final arrangements can include organ donation, as well as funeral plans, including how they are to be paid for. Pay-on-death bank accounts are often the best way to handle funeral expenses. You can include your plan for final arrangements in your estate plan.

  1. Make copies and store your documents

Once you have gathered all your estate planning documents, make copies and store the original and any copies in a safe place, such as a fireproof safe in your home or a safe deposit box. Make sure at least one other person will be able to access these documents after your death.

  1. Talk with your loved ones

Just getting everything down on paper is a great step forward in estate planning, but talking with your loved ones about your wishes is priceless. The clearer they are on what you want, the more likely it is that your wishes will be followed—and the fewer problems they will have, as they won't have to guess your intentions. This talk doesn't have to be all grim and dire, however. You can also take this opportunity to talk to them about your life and memories, and even pass along cherished photographs and stories.

  1. Keep everything current

Once you put together your estate plan, don't just put it in that safe place and forget about it. You should revisit the documents to make sure they still reflect your intentions.

Dear Ones, if any of you have comments or suggestions, we can make a part 2 to share with others to help them in preparing to pass. Thank you and I hope this was helpful and a blessing. Love, Jacki

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