“Therefore, stay awake, for you know neither the day nor the hour.” The Bible’s book of Matthew encourages us through these words to always be prepared for the end of our earthly existence.
Truly, none of us know the day or hour of our passing, but my uncle Steve Kleman has been informed by his doctors that his date may be sooner than we hope. Instead of lamenting the end of an earthly existence, my uncle Steve has decided to be proactive in his preparations in light of his doctors’ words.
My uncle Steve has decided that the best way to continue to live his earthly life to its fullest is to also prepare for its end. Specifically, my uncle has undertaken two steps of preparation: being right with God and expressing love for his family by pre-addressing earthly paperwork.
First, my uncle has told me how much closer he has intentionally become with God since his diagnosis. I concur that the most important preparation for our passing is to be right with God. My only involvement in this context has been to pray for him, just as I do for all of my family, friends and clients.
Second, my uncle has streamlined the earthly reality that will remain for his surviving family members.
As far as we know, our earthly wealth will not follow us into the afterlife. However, some of our wealth and some of our debts may stay with our loved ones when we pass. And, regardless, transferring anything out of our legal names upon our passing usually requires some paperwork for our loved ones.
My uncle Steve has been a model preparer in this context. He, his family and I have recently identified account numbers and passwords related to the checking, savings, investment and credit accounts that are in his name. We know whether his wife is a co-participant on each account, and most of his assets will transfer outside probate.
I have prepared, and my uncle has signed, updated powers of attorney that allow his family to make decisions on his behalf before and after he is unable to do so himself. My uncle’s will is updated, and his living will has been finalized.
My uncle’s family has copies of the relevant documents and 24-hour access through my office to those documents no matter where the family may physically be in the future when those documents may be needed.
By preparing in advance (like my uncle), we can make the inevitable, earthly paperwork for our surviving loved ones lighter and less burdensome.
Most of us do not receive the advanced medical information that my uncle Steve has received. However, each of us can and should prepare (spiritually and non-spiritually) as if we already have that advanced knowledge, because we know neither the day nor the hour.
My uncle Steve Kleman has consented to my sharing of these private details in this column. May God bless him, my aunt Judy and their family.
Lee R. Schroeder is an Ohio licensed attorney at Schroeder Law LLC in Putnam County. He limits his practice to business, real estate, estate planning and agriculture issues in northwest Ohio. He can be reached at Lee@LeeSchroeder.com or at 419-659-2058. This article is not intended to serve as legal advice, and specific advice should be sought from the licensed attorney of your choice based upon the specific facts and circumstances that you face.