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Planned Giving: “I’m booked!”

The optimism of George Burns can help you complete your estate plan.

When George Burns was approaching 100 years of age, he was asked if he ever thought about death. He replied, “How can I die? I’m booked.” Indeed, when he died in 1996 at the age of 100, he had several unfulfilled performance contracts.

Perhaps Burns’ optimistic comments help explain why some people procrastinate about estate planning. They fear that if they complete every estate-planning document—will, trust, power of attorney, beneficiary designations, charitable beneficiaries, records of accounts and documents, and burial instructions—it is as if they are preparing to die. As long as some things remain undone, goes the thinking, then life must be extended until those items are completed.

Of course, rationally we know that life is uncertain and that if it ends without our having all our affairs in order, we may complicate the settlement of our estates, create challenges for our loved ones, and incur unnecessary taxes. George Burns was right about the importance of planning. It does not make us immortal, but it increases the quality and perhaps also the quantity of life.

Actually, completing estate plans can liberate us from the nagging awareness that we have left some important things undone and free us to focus on future dreams and aspirations. Knowing that we have made provision for the people we love and the institutions we value—and have made prudent financial plans—we can lay aside concerns about things undone and have peace of mind. Then estate planning will not be so much preparation for death as embracing life—as George Burns always did.

Your attorney is the primary person to be consulted when you create or update an estate plan, but you may talk to other professionals as well. We can also assist you by providing information about the various ways you might include a legacy gift to support the mission of the Preserve in your plan.

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