[NOTE: I am not a representative of any estate planning company, and I do not get any compensation or benefit from writing this article.]
Eleven years ago, after my dad graduated to heaven, his portion of the estate was distributed among my siblings and me. A lawyer was asked to help us understand a few details, but that was it. "Estate planning" got my attention for the first time.
We began to...
Oh, I should mention the reason I'm thinking about it right now. Our Eagle Financial Group representative, Fred Asarisi, was here yesterday taking us through our annual estate planning checkup. But back to this later.
Years ago when we were told that we should get an estate planning portfolio, the question I asked was: Why do we need a plan like that? It's expensive and time-consuming. We don't have much, so let a Last Will and Testament take care of things.
So, for five years after dad's passing, we rebuffed those who we thought were just trying to get our money.
But then mom began to show signs of leaving this earth. She was 95, and we knew her graduation would be soon. We knew that her portion of the estate would be taken care of as seamlessly as was dad's. That's when we began to think seriously about a plan for our own miniscule estate.
My sister, Gena, called us one day and said she just got her estate planning done, and we should too. People can do all the work themselves, or they can go through a company who knows "all the ropes" and can get it done much faster without a lot of mistakes, frustration and rework.
That did it. Gena thought it was important, and I trust her. So when Carol and I saw that a company was giving an informative estate planning session in Springdale, we signed up. We are not the kind of people to jump on the nearest bandwagon that passes by, so we did our homework and found that this was, indeed, a good company.
The company was the CLA Estate Planning and Trust. They gave an understandable, low-powered presentation, answered all questions in everyday language (that means everyone understood what the representatives were saying), and we asked for a rep to come to our house.
The owner has since retired, handed the company over to his son, and the name was changed to The Eagle Financial Group.
We were surprised at the value of our miniscule estate. We had more assets than we realized, but we also began to understand the value of staying OUT of probate when someone dies. The probate process soaks up much of the monetary value like a sponge soaks up water.
Two of the primary reasons we went through CLA -- now Eagle Financial Group -- is that they guarantee a no-cost annual review. But they also guarantee to walk us through the legal process when one of us graduates. That is a comfort.
Now, where were we up at the top of this note?
Oh, yes. Our representative, Fred Asarisi, was here yesterday. His annual checkup is to assure that all paperwork is still up to date. If anything changed that required legal counsel or change of forms, he would take care of it. He would also advise us on other matters related to the estate.
As we were talking, Fred asked me if I knew the ethnic origin of his last name. I told him it could be Greek but was probably Italian. In his southern drawl, he affirmed that it is of Italian descent, but that he is a red-blooded American.
If anyone would like to establish an estate planning program, send me an email, and I'll give you Fred's phone number and email address.
But here's the big reason I think about estate planning.
Every person in the world has a huge estate to be concerned about; it's called Eternal Life. Without a relationship with Jesus Christ, humanity is in a world of hurt!
Where are you going to spend eternity? Don't be fooled: you will live forever -- somewhere.
If you don't plan properly, you will lose every potential benefit God can give you. Jesus Christ came to earth to clear the books of anything that could block your entry into heaven. All you need to do is to invite Him into your home; into your life. Talk with the Lord. He's listening.
-- S. Eugene Linzey is the author of 'Charter of the Christian Faith.' Send comments and questions to [email protected] Visit his website at www.genelinzey.com. The opinions expressed are those of the author.