Leave a Legacy

What you need to know!

I’ve been looking recently at some statistics for Australia and, if you can stay awake, they can be quite interesting. For example, the average life span in Australia at the moment is 82 years – that’s 80 years for men and 84 for women. So you can expect your wife to out live you by 4 years unless you are better than average!

Now while thats not particularly interesting if you are 30 or 40 years old, when you are near to entering your 70’s it begins to dawn on you that you are not immortal and that it’s later than you think. The truth is, if you are average, you only have a few years to finish the race before it’s all over and you depart this world. So maybe it’s time to ask yourself, “what sort of legacy do I want to leave?” What things do I want to come to mind when people talk about me when I’m gone?

Financial Matters

Your first reaction to that question was probably a financial one and, unless you’re Bill Gates, you probably haven’t got too much financial room to leave much of a legacy, and the point is, when you have reached retirement age, you haven’t got enough time to make much of a difference, unless you want to follow the Ned Kelly way to riches! (He’s an early Australian criminal if you are wondering!)

Though talking about finances does bring up the important question of “hows your will?” If you haven’t got a will, then find your nearest community legal centre and get one drawn up today or at least go to the local post office and buy a will kit. Otherwise, the government will determine what goes where, and you won’t have a choice. If you haven’t visited the question of a will for a long time, then get it out and ask yourself a couple of questions:-

1. Am I leaving these assets to the right people? Will the choice I’ve made just cause arguments?
2. What happens if those people die before you do? Who will get those assets then?

Update, Update, Update

You should revisit your will every few years because there are a lot of circumstances that can change the way you want your assets distributed when you die.  For example- things like you have more grandchildren, or you start a new relationship or end an old one, or you find an existing beneficiary is addicted to drugs or your executer gets dementia or even dies. So get out your old will and see what it says. You can read more information about making a will written by someone who knows about these things right here.

Now I have three children who, after my wife, will receive an equal share of all I have left behind. That’s what my will has said for the last 30 years. However, it occurred to me recently, that if one of my children dies before I do, their children (my grandchildren) would get nothing. That doesn’t seem fair and I need to fix that.  So I revisited my will recently, determined to fix that situation and I now have a new will just waiting to be signed.

The Super Problem

And while we are on the subject of wills, many Australians seem to think their superannuation can be left to someone in their will. It can’t. You have to make arrangements with your superannuation fund to ensure it is distributed as you require, so give them a call today and ask about setting up a “Binding Nomination.” And you should also note that at a recent seniors meeting, I was told that my children would have to pay 15% tax on what they get from my superannuation fund when I die – that the Australian equivalent of a death duty. So the speaker suggested that in my last week of life, I should instruct my super fund to put all the money into my bank account because my kids would be 15% better off! I’m not sure I’ll be able to instruct anybody in that week, but you never know.

What Else?

But beside money or assets what will your legacy be? I think this is far more important than money because if you are like me, you want to pass on the lessons of life – especially the painful ones to the next generation and the one after that before they have to experience the same pain. I was at a funeral a while ago and I heard the woman who died, had spent the last 6 months of her life ringing family members and friends in an effort to set things right with them and apologise for her part in issues that caused them problems. Thats a great thing to do and I’m sure it closed many doors for people.

Now there is the possibility, if you choose to drift in life, you could leave the image of a cranky old man behind. It’s pretty easy to sit at home and get cranky with the world. And unless you deliberately try and avoid that situation, that probably where you will end up.  Unfortunately your crankiness rubs off onto everybody around you so it seems to me, I’d rather not leave that legacy. We all need to avoid that kind of outcome and choose another way!

People Issues

Most people find that in their later years, if they can help others do something, it is a great legacy to leave behind. So they volunteer, they visit others a little worse off, they get involved in passing onto others, some of the skills they have developed along the way.  There are plenty of people in aged care homes who have few visitors (or none) and sitting with one of them is something you can do to make life a bit brighter for them.

The Bottom Line

Of course, leaving a legacy of good morals and passing those onto the next generation is a vital part of what I want to leave behind. Of course, most people realise they have done some stupid things in life and by the time you get to retirement age, I’m sure you can probably think of many things on your list. So do take the time to pass on to your grandkids, the stories of God’s grace and how God only welcomes broken people into His family. Because that will probably be there experience too.  Jesus once said He came for those who need someone to help them get better and those who need no help wouldn’t find acceptance from Him. If you’d like to find out more have a look at this

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