For those who watch late-night television, you are probably already familiar with the fact that the Daily Show and Colbert Report typically run new episodes at the same time and take breaks at the same time. For that reason, it may have seemed odd that this week, the Daily Show was airing current episodes while the Colbert Report was not. Well, for fans of the show, the mystery has been solved: Stephen Colbert was absent from his show due to his mother’s death. He spent the first part of the show doing something he almost never does, breaking character, and gave a short remembrance.
In addition to being a heartfelt message to and about his mother, it was a reminder of the things that matter most: lifetime memories. So often left out of primary concern in estate planning is the legacy left behind. Planning for preservation of your estate through a QMap Trust if you need Medicaid (Medi-Cal in California) or a QVap Trust if you qualify for veterans aid and attendance non service connected disability benefits is beneficial and will afford your family opportunities to go to college or buy a home or satisfy some other priority. However, your family’s real cherished moments will be the last days spent with you.
Similarly, we often concern ourselves with making sure that everyone is treated fairly. Making the distributions “equal,” is expressed by dividing the major assets so that each child gets one piece of real property or so that bank accounts are split into as many shares as there are beneficiaries. However, personal property distributions are often left to the beneficiaries to figure out and agree on their own. The undocumented trinkets, however, of which your attorney may not be aware or ask about, are the items that often cause the most turmoil and lingering resentment. By specifically allocating important pieces, such as china, wedding rings, and even photo albums, to the person who you believe will most appreciate them, you can avoid unnecessary conflict.
Colbert’s tribute to his mother reminded me of an obituary that broke the mold and paid homage to “ladies’ man, foodie, natty dresser, and accomplished traveler,” Harry Stamps of Long Beach, MS. The obituary also caught the attention of a nationwide audience, but not because Mr. Stamps was famous. Instead, the tongue-in-cheek message by his mourning daughter resonated with people. The nuance of the obituary gave everyone a small glimpse into the life of a man who we might have liked to know.
Estate planning is important, of course, and dealing with tax implications and probate avoidance are laudable goals. But, in the meantime, keeping up with your family and making memories will sustain them much longer than “the memory” of you. Planning for your estate is more than simply who gets what when you die; it is about appreciating those you loved while you were alive and remembering that in small, seemingly inconsequential ways, they appreciate you too.
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