Legacy may seem to be a word used in a different generation. But its purpose is still very relevant. And your legacy could mean far more than you realize.

It is never easy to put plans in place for when we pass away.  But the burden you release from your heirs is enormous when you take the time to do so.

Several years ago, my sister was being treated very successfully for pancreatic cancer, although we both knew there would be no recovery.  Two years before she passed away on a week-end visit to her, she handed me a very plain, benign green two pocket folder.  I had a questioning look on my face when she handed it to me.  Its contents brought me to tears.

When I opened it, on the left side I found a copy of her will and trust, health care power of attorney, living will, insurance policy and a list of all of her bank accounts, credit cards, and investment accounts, as well as all the companies she paid such as utilities, homeowners association, etc.

On the right side I found a CD of the music she wanted played at her memorial, receipt from prepaid arrangements at the funeral home, receipt for payment and location of her burial urn, her list of specific items to go to special people, appraisals of her jewelry, art, furniture, etc., and a list of names and number of people she wanted me to call when she passed away, including close friends, doctors, nurses, and hospice.  She had a PhD in oncology nursing and published many papers.  However, the one paper she wrote the most exceptional of them all.  She had written her own obituary.  There were things in her obituary that I didn’t even know about her!  She was telling people about her in her words, not mine.  That is the heart of a legacy.

Tucked into an envelope paperclipped to one of the pockets were business cards from her oncologist, hospice, eye surgeon, oncology clinic, accountant, attorney, financial planner, funeral home and church.

I looked up at her with tears in my eyes because she had just lifted an enormous burden from my shoulders.  She had given me what I now call, “The Greatest Gift of All©.”

I have published this and shared this many times over as I think it puts a completely different light on a simple way to manage an often-difficult part of our lives.  When preplanning our passing in the context of how to tell those we leave behind what our wishes and desires are, it doesn’t seem to be such an insurmountable task and, in fact, becomes an act of love.