All Things Financial Planning Blog

The ‘Last’ Estate Plan


Make Money a Servant to Your LifeNow that you have diligently and thoroughly thought out your estate plans and have visited your attorney to legally document those estate plans …

Have you thought about the details of your final ‘good-bye’?

In many cases personal items that you wish to have passed to particular people or organizations will need to be specifically identified and your intentions documented to make sure that the personal item goes to whom you wish. Perhaps a video walk-through of the home with items identified and history or stories of the item told will add extra ‘preciousness’ to the otherwise valuable keepsake or heirloom. It might help explain your choices to your legatees so that they would understand your choices rather than being uncertain about them or dissatisfied by them after your passing.

For some individuals, a legacy video is obtained wherein they talk about their family history, their life experiences and maybe most importantly, lessons learned and values ingrained. Things that perhaps we just never got around to talking about or saying but that we would like to share and make certain that they are passed on to those that follow us. As a client once told me with respect to his legacy – “I’d just like them to always remember that I did pass through …”

If you were to think about your final good-bye ceremony and the involvement of family and friends to the extent desired …

  • What would the service be like and where would it be held?
  • Would it be just a service or a service and reception?
  • Who would be in attendance (and maybe who should not) and what time of day would it be?
  • Would a clergy or other specifically identified individual(s) preside over the service?
  • Would you be cremated or ??
  • What sort of expense would you think was appropriate for the service, for your casket, for your urn, for ??
  • Would there be any particular organizations that would be involved in the services like the military?
  • If donations were to be made, where would you like them made to?
  • Would there be any specific readings, scriptures, hymns or music to be used in the service? If so, would there be any particular order or place in the service that you would like them used?
  • If a casket is chosen, would you want an open casket service?
  • Would your grave site be on a hill, under a tree or in a mausoleum?
  • What would your tombstone say?
  • Who would be your pallbearers?
  • Would there be a special suit or dress that you would like to be buried in?
  • If an obituary were to be written, who would write it?
  • Any special wishes that haven’t been thought of that you have in mind?
  • Where would your family find your ‘important’ documents and will you have made them aware of that information in advance of your passing?

I don’t know where, or if, any of these considerations will come to play in your life’s passing event, but, hopefully I have given you some food for thought on this often overlooked matter of our final affairs. Having expressed our desires to those who would be making these kinds of decisions can be extremely helpful for them as they try to honor you ‘completely and respectfully’ as they would like for your celebration of life to be deservedly done for you.

May your life be abundant and fulfilled. When the time comes I hope your passing is peaceful and that you have support around you. Let that ‘last estate plan’ celebrate your memory and legacy as you would have it memorialized.

David Bergmann, CFP®, EA, CLU, ChFC
Managing Principal
The David Bergmann Group
Marina Del Ray, CA

Author: David Bergmann, CFP®

ACADEMIA David has been an instructor in UCLA’s CFP Board Accredited Personal Financial Planning Certificate Program since 1995 and he is a member of the Program’s Academic Review Committee. David has taught both the Financial Analysis and Employee Benefits/Retirement Plan courses and regularly teaches the Federal Income Taxation in PFP class. He is also the instructor for the Ethics course and oversees the internship program. PROFESSIONAL CONTRIBUTIONS David has served as an editorial reviewer for the Journal of Financial Planning since the magazines inception. He has been a reviewer for the FPA’s Financial Planning Perspectives publications and other various National publications. David served from 1988 through 1990 as President of the Los Angeles Society of the Institute of Certified Financial Planners (ICFP). He also served on the National Board of the ICFP from 1988 through 1993 having chaired The Education, The Communications, The Regional Directors and The Case Law Oversight Committees as well as serving a year on the Executive Committee. David has been a mentor and since 2006 has been a Dean in the nationally recognized FPA’s Residency Program. PROFESSIONAL ACTIVITIES The David R. Bergmann Group is a comprehensive services firm supporting the work the firm does in, and with the process of, comprehensive Life Financial Planning. In our life financial planning process we focus on the client’s life goals and individual passions in the context of what brings joy, purpose, fulfillment and sense of valued legacy and then we structure their financial affairs and personal resources to enable, inspire and empower them to live their impassioned and fulfilled life. David was twice named as one of the Top 100 Financial Advisors in the country by Mutual Fund Magazine. He has appeared on CBS Nightly News and in many National print publications, including the Wall Street Journal, Investor’s Business Daily, Business Week, and others.

2 thoughts on “The ‘Last’ Estate Plan

  1. Great article! Too often these are the details that don’t get taken care of because our family does not know them. A great tool that had helped me organize and share these important parts of my legacy is It’s been a huge help and even fun to use.

  2. Estate planning is also important so that you are able to preserve your memory in a positive way. The last thing you want to do is leave your kids with a financial mess to clean up after you’re gone.

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