Inheritance, Passwords, Funerals

Those are three topics in a USA Today Valentine’s Day article. Here are a few survey statistics:

  • Half of those surveyed feel guilty not leaving enough inheritance for their family.
  • Forty-two percent are unsure of the best way to structure an inheritance.
  • One-third don’t know how to discuss inheritance with family members.
  • Only 36% of those surveyed have shared financial passwords to use in case of emergency.
  • Passwords have been shared by 44% of people with $250,000+ in investable assets.
  • Forty percent have discussed funeral arrangements with their family.
  • Thirty percent have set aside money for end-of-life care and a funeral.
  • Twenty-eight percent have created a plan in case something happens to the household’s primary financial decision-maker.

A prominent wealth manager said: “Without an estate plan in place, clients may see their assets distributed in a way that may not be consistent with their wishes.” So true.

These are some of the primary messages of Legacy Deo, the charitable foundation I serve:

  • Planning how best to share inheritance with loved ones is an important responsibility.
  • Including church and other charities in an estate plan is meaningful and fulfilling.
  • Using beneficiary designations is a simple, inexpensive, non-probate process to use.
  • Life insurance and charitable trusts are also effective practical and philanthropic tools.
  • A current Last Will and Testament is a basic estate planning instrument.
  • A list of your assets, accounts, and passwords should be available to your spouse, other responsible family members, and/or the executor of your estate.
  • It’s a good idea to make written plans for your funeral, especially if you’re over 70.

Taking care of these important tasks and responsibilities will give you peace of mind. The day will come when your family will be blessed by your thoughtfulness and planning.

And if you have no family or no one to whom you feel comfortable entrusting administration of your estate, contact Legacy Deo at (512) 646-4909 or info@legacydeo.org. We’re here to help.

Put Me in Charge

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Credit: Joshua Earle on Unsplash

In my Perspectives file this week I found an article that my notes say appeared in a newspaper in Waco, Texas. The author, a 21 yr. old young woman, expresses how she feels about the social welfare system in our country today. Here are excerpts from “Put Me in Charge.”

Put me in charge of food stamps. I’d get rid of Lone Star cards; no cash for Ding Dongs or Hostess Ho Hos, just money for 50-pound bags of rice and beans, blocks of cheese and all the powdered milk you can haul away. If you want steak and frozen pizza, then get a job.

Put me in charge of Medicaid. The first thing I’d do is get women birth control implants or tubal ligations. Then, we’ll test recipients for drugs, alcohol, and nicotine. If you want to reproduce or use drugs, alcohol, or smoke, then get a job.

Put me in charge of government housing. Ever live in a military barracks? You will maintain our property in a clean and good state of repair. Your “home” will be subject to inspections anytime and possessions will be inventoried. If you want a plasma TV or Xbox 360, then get a job.

In addition, you will either present a check stub from a job each week or you will report to a “government” job. It may be cleaning the roadways of trash, painting and repairing public housing, whatever we find for you. We will sell your 22-inch rims and low profile tires and your blasting stereo and speakers and put that money toward the “common good.”

Before you write that I’ve violated someone’s rights, realize that all of the above is voluntary. If you want our money, accept our rules. Before you say that this would be “demeaning” and ruin people’s “self-esteem,” consider that it wasn’t that long ago that taking someone else’s money for doing absolutely nothing was demeaning and lowered self-esteem.

And while you are on government subsistence, you no longer can vote. For you to vote would be a conflict of interest. You will voluntarily remove yourself from voting while you are receiving a government welfare check. If you want to vote, then get a job.

Obviously this is a bit radical or even offensive. Obviously it’s targeted toward those who abuse the system. And obviously there are many, many people who simply cannot find a job due to physical or developmental or emotional impairment and truly need financial assistance.

At a time when prospective candidates for the highest office in our land are proposing lots of “free” benefits for American citizens and non-citizens, it behooves us to think carefully, to choose wisely, to supervise appropriately, to act responsibly, to provide adequately, to care generously, to serve selflessly, to be thankful continually.

The one we “put in charge” this November will have all those responsibilities, and more. He or she is definitely in need of our prayers for wisdom and discernment.

How Children Perceive Their Grandparents

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Credit: Johnny Cohen on Unsplash

Terry and I have been abundantly blessed with two wonderful grandchildren, both of whom are already young adults, out on their own, gainfully employed, residing within three hours of our home. We love being together, which now happens much less frequently than we’d like.

In my file of future Perspectives topics, this one popped out at me today. I hope you’ll enjoy How Children Perceive Their Grandparents, dedicated to our grandchildren Kolby and Kayla.

  • She was in the bathroom, putting on her makeup under the watchful eyes of her young granddaughter, as she’d done many times before. After she applied her lipstick and started to leave, the little one said, “But Gramma, you forgot to kiss the toilet paper good-bye!” I’ll probably never put lipstick on again without thinking about kissing the toilet paper good-bye. 
  • My young grandson called to wish me happy birthday. He asked me how old I was. I told him 80. He was quiet for a moment, and then asked, “Did you start at 1?” 
  • After putting her grandchildren to bed, a grandmother changed into old slacks and a droopy blouse and proceeded to wash her hair. As she heard the children getting more and more rambunctious, her patience grew thin. Finally, she threw a towel around her head and stormed into their room, putting them back to bed with stern warnings. As she left the room, she heard the three-year-old say with trembling voice, “Who was THAT?” 
  • A grandmother was telling her little granddaughter what her own childhood was like. “We used to skate outside on a pond. I had a tire swing hanging from a tree in our yard. We rode our pony. We picked wild berries in the woods.” The little girl was wide-eyed, taking this all in. At last she said, “I sure wish I’d gotten to know you sooner!” 
  • My grandson was visiting one day when he asked, “Grandma, do you know how you and God are alike?” I mentally polished my halo and said, “No, how are we alike?” “You’re both real old,” he replied. 
  • When my grandson Billy and I entered our vacation cabin, we kept the lights off until we were inside to keep from attracting pesky insects. Still, a few fireflies followed us in. Noticing them before I did, Billy whispered, “It’s no use, Grandpa. Now the mosquitoes are coming after us with flashlights.”
  • When my grandson asked me how old I was, I teasingly replied, “I’m not sure.” “Look in your underwear, Grandpa,” he advised. “Mine says I’m 4 to 6.”
  • A second grader came home from school and said to her grandmother, “Grandma, guess what? We learned how to make babies today.” The grandmother, more than a little surprised, tried to keep her cool. “That’s interesting,” she said, warily. “How do you make babies?” It’s easy,” replied the girl. “You just change ‘y’ to ‘i’ and add ‘es’.”
  • A 6-year-old was asked where his grandma lived. “Oh,” he said, “she lives at the airport, and when we want her, we just go get her. Then, when we’re done having her visit, we take her back to the airport.”
  • Grandpa is the smartest man on earth! He teaches me good things, but I don’t get to see him enough to get as smart as he is!

As is true for many of you, all four of my grandparents are already in heaven. Though they always lived hundreds of miles away from us, Mom and Dad as often as possible took us four children to see them at Christmas time and during the summer.

It was a blessing to know my grandparents, genuine gifts of God! And for the past 25 years I have been richly blessed to be one! BTW, my Terry is an awesome Mimi!

The Legend of the Christmas Tree

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Credit: Sapan Patel on Unsplash

Due to Christmas schedules, this week’s Perspectives comes a few days earlier than usual.

Lucy Wheelock (1857-1946) was an American early childhood education pioneer, influencing the American kindergarten. She was founder and head of Wheelock Kindergarten Training School, which later became Wheelock College in Boston, Mass. Lucy wrote this legend:

Two little children were sitting by the fire one cold winter’s night. All at once they heard a timid knock at the door, and one ran to open it.

There, outside in the cold and the darkness, stood a child with no shoes upon his feet and clad in thin, ragged garments. He was shivering with cold, and he asked to come in and warm himself.

“Yes, come,” cried both the children. “You shall have our place by the fire. Come in!”

They drew the little stranger to their warm seat and shared their supper with him, and gave him their bed, while they slept on a hard bench.

In the night they were awakened by strains of sweet music and, looking out, they saw a band of children in shining garments approaching the house. They were playing on golden harps, and the air was full of melody.

Suddenly the Stranger Child stood before them, no longer cold and ragged, clad in silvery light.

His soft voice said: “I was cold and you took me in. I was hungry, and you fed me. I was tired, and you gave me your bed. I am the Christ Child, wandering through the world to bring peace and happiness to all good children. As you have given to me, so may this tree every year give rich fruit to you.”

So saying, he broke a branch from the fir tree that grew near the door, and he planted it in the ground and disappeared. But the branch grew into a great tree, and every year it bore wonderful golden fruit for the kind children.

This somewhat fanciful little legend is a simple reminder to enjoy the blessing of giving to those with little or nothing to satisfy their needs, as taught by Jesus in Matt. 25:31-46.

Last week our family and a few wonderful neighbors joined hands and hearts in blessing two families with special needs. Terry and I also sent our end of year gifts to a number of charitable causes near and dear to our hearts. Both were meaningful ways of living the spirit of Christmas.

Terry and I pray for each of you a very blessed Christmas! Welcome to our hearts, Baby Jesus!

A Time to Give

It’s hard to believe December is already here. Thoughts of giving gifts to loved ones and friends are on the minds of many. Anticipation of receiving gifts creates hope and expectation.

We just finished “Black Friday” and “Cyber Monday.” In addition to ordering stuff online, massive crowds of people spent billions of dollars shopping in a real old-fashioned building called a store. Some of you may remember those places where we used to do all our shopping.Not everyone loves to shop, but my dear Terry surely does. In addition to planning and cooking special festive holiday dinners for family, friends, and even people she has never met, Terry loves to decorate our home and shop for special gifts for our family members and friends.

Not so much with yours truly. It’s always been difficult for me to come up with creative ideas for Christmas gifts. It’s pretty easy to choose the wrong size or color. And did I mention that I really don’t enjoy shopping? For me. For you. For anybody. I like to give. I just don’t like to shop.

That’s why for the past decade or so my Christmas giving has consisted of a personal letter to each member of our family, with a reasonably generous check in the same envelope. It’s always the right color and at least fairly close to the right size!

The spirit of giving is contagious. This week a neighbor asked if I knew of needy folks his family could support in a special way this Christmas. I called another neighbor who serves on the board of directors of a social service organization I helped start 34 years ago. They will suggest a family in need. My friend’s gesture of generosity has prompted our family to do the same.

It’s hard to talk about giving without mentioning the wisdom of planning to give gifts to loved ones and favorite charities when our shopping days are over. Someday the good Lord will call us home. That’s the time the plans we establish now to make final gifts later will be implemented.

For ideas, suggestions, and assistance with planned giving, go to www.legacydeo.org.

Whether giving now or in the future, Christmas is a reminder to celebrate the greatest gift of all, the birth of our Savior Jesus. He gave himself for us. In a spirit of love, it’s time for us to give.

 

An Old Doberman

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Credit: patstatic / Pixabay 

An old Doberman starts chasing rabbits and before long, discovers that he’s lost.

Wandering about, he sees a lion heading rapidly in his direction with intention of having lunch.

The old Doberman thinks, “Oh, oh! I’m in deep trouble now!”

Noticing some bones on the ground close by, he immediately settles down to chew on the bones with his back to the approaching cat.

Just as the lion is about to leap, the old Doberman exclaims loudly, “Boy, that was one delicious lion! I wonder, if there are any more around here?”

Hearing this, the young lion halts his attack in mid-stride, a look of terror comes over him, and he slinks away into the trees. “Whew!” says the lion, “That was close! That old Doberman nearly had me!”

Meanwhile, a squirrel who had been watching the whole scene from a nearby tree, figures he can put this knowledge to good use and trade it for protection from the lion. So, off he goes.

The squirrel soon catches up with the lion, spills the beans, and strikes a deal for himself with the lion.

The young lion is furious at being made a fool of and says, “Here, squirrel, hop on my back and see what’s going to happen to that conniving canine!”

The old Doberman sees the lion coming with the squirrel on his back and thinks, “What am I going to do now?” But instead of running, the dog sits down with his back to his attackers, pretending he hasn’t seen them yet.

Just when they get close enough to hear, the old Doberman says, “Where’s that crazy squirrel? I sent him off an hour ago to bring me another lion!”

The moral of this story? Don’t mess with the old dogs. Age and skill will always overcome youth and treachery!  

The Bible says: “Wisdom belongs to the aged, and understanding to the old. But true wisdom and power are found in God; counsel and understanding are his.” Job 12:12-13

God bless your pre-Thanksgiving week!

Texas Population and Traffic

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Credit: Wikipedia

You can see it. You can feel it. You can experience it. Just get on a road many places in Texas. Any day. Almost any time. Bumper to bumper. Parking lot. Delays. Wasted time. Frustration.

Those are words describing what most people living in Texas know firsthand, especially folks in the “Texas Triangle” — the megaregion with Houston, Dallas, and San Antonio as its vertices, including Austin about 80 miles north of San Antonio and 180 miles south of Dallas.

That region is projected to have 35 million residents by 2050—75% of the Texas population. Residents can readily attest to the rapid growth, visibly apparent nearly everywhere.

Recent information published by Wells Fargo Economics Group says that of the 50 largest metro areas in the United States, none has grown faster since 2010 on a percentage basis than Austin, whose population is up an astounding 25.5%. Texas dominates the rankings with Houston and San Antonio filling out the top five along with Orlando and Raleigh. Dallas-Fort Worth ranks sixth over this time period, with its population rising a mere 16.9%.

The Austin-Round Rock metropolitan area, home to the state capital and the University of Texas, continues to attract a steady stream of business and tech investment as well as large numbers of migrants. Years of red-hot growth have driven housing prices sharply higher and raised concerns over congestion and gentrification.

Higher home prices and increased congestion have pushed growth out into surrounding cities, making Austin suburbs such as Pflugerville, Georgetown, Cedar Park, and San Marcos some of the fastest growing cities in the country.

The 7.5 million Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex has 11 counties and numerous cities. In addition to Dallas and Fort Worth, it has four cities between 200,000 and 500,000 residents (Arlington, Garland, Irving, and Plano), and eight more with over 100,000 residents (Carrollton, Denton, Frisco, Grand Prairie, Lewisville, McKinney, Mesquite, and Richardson).

In light of this rapid growth, accompanied by the growing pains cited above, I’m inclined to discourage from doing so anyone considering a move to Texas. Yet I know that attitude is largely selfish, for Terry and I are among the native and longtime residents of our beloved state who wistfully recall the days when living in Austin was much more enjoyable than it is today.

When I think that way I’m reminded of King David’s words in 1 Chron. 29:15: “We are here for only a moment, visitors and strangers in the land as our ancestors were before us. Our days on earth are like a passing shadow, gone so soon without a trace.”

I just hope there’s no traffic in heaven!