Hopefully, there is lots of happiness ahead in your life — grand adventures that may include education and rewarding careers, marriage and children, good friends and grandchildren, travel and leisure, laughter and love. Lots of love.
And then, you are going to die.
Which is not something to look forward to. Well, not right now anyway.
Young people don’t give much thought to their own death. That inevitable day is long, long into their future. They are filled with the delicious hubris of youth. With dreams and ambitions, hopes and maybe a few fears.
As people age, they shift to parenting and materialism. They get focused on stuff — for their kids and for themselves. It’s no surprise that the sweet-spot audience for advertisers is 25-to-54-year-olds. Everyone with something to sell wants to reach this audience. These are the years in most people’s lives in which they are earning and spending the most money. They are buying cars, dishwashers, televisions, bigger homes, and whatever the latest thing is. They are buying toys and toys and toys. They are going out for dinner, going to movies, paying for their children’s education, and going on family holidays to Disneyland.
When people reach their mid-50s, they begin to understand the inevitability of loss. They get focused on experiences. People in midlife see that they will not always enjoy perfect health and they start to seriously plan for retirement. They find themselves spending more time contemplating the people, causes, and remaining goals that matter to them. They spend more time dreaming about what they still want to do and less time accumulating stuff. They start imagining what they want their senior years to be. They consider downsizing their home.
When people reach the autumn of their lives, they become focused on others. They want to know the people who are important to them — their children, grandchildren, siblings, and friends — will go on living their best lives. They want to feel that they have done their duty well and can leave these important people, knowing they leave behind a legacy of love and caring.
Near the end of life, most people become at peace with their own death. Blogs written by people with terminal diagnosis are not filled with bleak sentiments of loneliness and pain. Rather, they are surprisingly positive and uplifting. Imagining one’s death, it turns out, is much more painful than experiencing one’s death. For all of us, that day will come. We will die. The good news is, most of us will be ready for it when we do.
This is all a generalization, obviously. Everyone’s adventure is different. Some people are narcissists, only focused on themselves. Some are unselfish, always putting others first. Some never give up accumulating stuff, others never accumulate much to begin with. Most are somewhere in between.
The point is that life is a journey. It’s a grand adventure. And, it’s the only one we’ve got.
When you think of your will, don’t think of it as a stark legal document that is nothing more than a shopping list of your stuff and who gets what. Rather, think of your will as your life’s vision statement. Think of it as a written record of what you aspire to: where you want to be, what you want to have accomplished, and who you want to take care of when everything has been said and done.
This information is not a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed lawyer in your jurisdiction, wherever that may be.