My dad was a mechanic - a pretty good one from all accounts. He’s always liked fixing things.
As a kid, I recall hearing “a mechanic’s car is always the worst”. It may well have been mum who yelled it whenever my brothers and I were push-starting her 1964 Ford Cortina in a heavy Invercargill frost.
That recollection came back to me recently when I was eating breakfast. I was thinking about how my affairs were organised and I had one of those "oh shit” moments.
It wasn’t so much that I didn't have good plans in place. It was the sudden realisation that as a single person living alone, no one else knew what they were.
Did my adult children know what I own? Did they know I have a family trust, that they are beneficiaries, or that my brother is a trustee? How would my laptop be accessed? Who knew where I keep my original documents? Did anyone know what was important to me?
It dawned on me that I hadn’t told anyone. That’s like owning that ’64 Cortina and hiding it in a shed.
I sat down and wrote a letter to my children and brother about how things worked, where things were and what was important to me. The positive response I received surprised me.
As I see it, it’s up to me to make sure my affairs are in order and to prepare my heirs. It just took a pending crisis to expose potential vulnerabilities and take the right action to tune things up.
From my experience, we get to choose the impact of our legacy on the people (or causes) we care most about. That impact can be positive or negative.
What will the impact of your legacy be?
Plan with purpose!
Lindsay Pope, based in Auckland, New Zealand, is a Founding Member of the Independent Trustee Alliance. With over 40-years’ experience in professional trustee and private client services, he’s well placed to guide & support families, trustees, beneficiaries and their professional advisers. His experience includes national roles for trustee standards, estate management, philanthropy, high value and complex appointments with a nationwide trustee.