OUR contractor passed away last month. TB of the brain. Our store manager went last Easter. Aneurysm. Some friends have colon cancer, some cirrhosis, and some just counting days, months or years before the expected call. What if it were you? How would you spend your last few months or years on Earth?
My business partners and I discussed this practical albeit morbid thought and it gets you thinking of what is really important in life. To some, it may be family at the top of the heap. Spend quality time with family and make sure you do not regret having had less time to talk with each other. Put away the gadgets and just have a nice conversation. It is an investment for everyone’s benefit.
To others, it may be their work or business that will take priority. They look at succession plans, how to leave enough funds for the family to live on, life insurance and such material benefits that everyone needs anyway. So, for the business types, it is about what will happen to “the company I built”?
For others, it may be their passion or advocacy. “Who will follow after me who may have the same passion for this?” you may ask yourself. It may be your work in church, work for the community or even for a whole industry.
If you think about it, life is indeed short. You could go in the next breath, funeral arrangements can be planned for the most a week, and after such traditional practices and customs, you’re off to six feet below the ground. If you had friends who were on vacation abroad for a month, they may never even see you or say a proper goodbye while you start your journey to the next life.
So, what would you do, if you knew exactly around what time or month you could go?
What is your bucket list? Things you want to do or activities you want to try, places you want to see, people you want to meet, etc.
If you had a bucket list ready, what’s next? Put your house in order. Please do not leave your bereaved family and friends arguing about what goes to whom or who gets what. Write out a will. A lawyer friend told me it has to be “holographic” or in layman’s terms—handwritten. Signed and dated. And the “executrix” cannot be a beneficiary (for obvious reasons). Emails are not acceptable.
Second, understand the law. There are “forced heirs”—parents, children and if you have been orphaned (like me) —siblings are also forced heirs. I like how the law defines it—“forced heirs”. “Legitim”—portion of movable estate a father will apportion among his children upon death—Learn the ropes. The law is complicated and may frustrate you if you had other plans like leaving your piano for your dog or cat. Or you may want to leave some precious things for friends, employees, neighbors or whoever.
It is difficult to stay alive, as it is difficult to go without planning. My father had it all squared out. He was a very wise man. He died penniless (leaving everything to the company and his children and wife) but all his wishes were granted as soon as he had a major heart condition and knew his days were numbered. We traveled, he bought new suits in Paris, he asked for a new car and to his final day, we were still abroad, wanting to eat his favorite food.
He was lucky to survive a major heart attack (four years before he finally went) and so he could plan. There are many who have a lingering illness but refuse to plan. Such is life. Some would rather let the “chips fall where they must” and leave everything to fate.
At some point, we need to think about these things. Do it already , if you care for your family, your friends and even your advocacies. Let your legacy live on by planning its immortality.
Nothing to leave behind but inspiration? No problem. Just lead an inspiring life and you would have done everyone a favor already. Even this requires some planning. To be ever inspiring is not for the timid or lazy. I am sure it requires even more effort than regular tasks and activities. And it is something that should go on until you finally croak.
Live well but leave well, too.
Chit Juan is a founder and owner of ECHOStore sustainable lifestyle, ECHOmarket sustainable farms and ECHOcafe in Serendra , Podium and Centris QC malls. She also is President of the Women’s Business Council of the Philippines and President of the Philippine Coffee Board Inc., two non-profits close to her heart. She often speaks to corporates, youth and NGOs on social entrepreneurship, women empowerment, and coffee. You can follow her on twitter.com/chitjuan or find her on facebook:Pacita “Chit” Juan. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.