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  • Writer's pictureSchmucker Advising Group

I'm not losing 20 pounds...

January 6, 2020

January brings with it a regular joining of my husband on whatever resolution he has made – eating healthier, hopping on the treadmill, drinking a lot of smoothies with spinach in them, calling our parents more often – all good things. On the other hand, I generally avoid resolutions, and instead spend January encouraging others to make a really important resolution of their own.

Let’s step back a month. If you, like many others, looked around sometime over the holidays and felt joy well up inside you while spending true family time with your children, or your parents, or your siblings and thought about what matters in life, then I want to ask you a question.

Do you have a will? Quite simply, have you defined what you want to happen if you pass away before all of the people you love? Will they know what to do?

I spent many years in planned giving working with some of the smartest people I had ever met – educators, researchers, entrepreneurs, talented artists, doctors and more. More often than not, these people surprised me by telling me they did not have a will or they had not updated it in over a decade.

Sadly, this is so frequent. In fact, the stats have consistently shown that more than half of adults in the U.S. lack a will, so chances are good that you don’t have one. Yet.

I want to encourage you to take the time to review your will if you have one. Make sure it is current. If you, like my parents once told me, have your children going to live with their grandmother who is now deceased, you may need to update it. (Don’t worry. I was already a parent myself when I learned this. Nothing to worry about!)

If you have children, there are many things that may have changed. They may be adults now and don’t need to live with their grandparents! You should review your will often. They say every three years, but these decisions are so important, take time each January to refresh yourself on what your will says. If something bugs you a bit, spend more time determining if it is time to make a change. Talk to those involved and those who advise you.

If you don’t have a will, start to think about what you want to do. There are many great resources available. We used several, but the best one came from our attorney. Consider minor children, family treasures, your home, insurance policies, retirement plans and more. Then, think about the most important people and organizations in your life.

If you wonder why I say organizations should be considered, ask yourself if there are any places, institutions, or charities that have made a difference in your life or the life of someone you know. This might be your alma mater, your place of worship, a library, an organization working on research to cure a disease that impacts your family, your fraternity or sorority, non-profits saving animals and the planet, and so many more wonderful causes that matter to you.

I recommend making a list of the five causes that are most important to you. It might not be a specific organization. It might be something general like fighting poverty or advancing civil rights or ensuring the culture of your community exists for the long-term. Whatever it is, jot these down. Think about them. Can you help advance these causes through organizations you trust at the same time that you take care of your family? Who does work that matters to you almost as much as your family? How can you help them at the end of your life?

So many people think they don’t need a will because they don’t have anything to give. Or they think they can’t make a difference for the charities they’ve been supporting their entire lives. My experience has shown me over and over that your family needs you to have a will so every wish that you have is clear. And, your community organizations make an impact with your gift, no matter the size. It is simply astounding what you can do with this one important document.

Make your resolution to create or update your will. It’s easier than losing 20 pounds. I promise.

Coconut sorbet served in a half coconut shell with a raspberry glaze smiley face served on a blue plate with a spoon
Coconut sorbet

Angie Schmucker, CFRE, is a seasoned fundraising executive, organization development consultant, and strategic planner with both corporate and non-profit experience. She is principal of Schmucker Advising Group, LLC.

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