Once when St. Francis of Assisi was hoeing his garden, a person asked him, “What would you do if you suddenly learned that you would die at sunset?” St. Francis replied, “I would continue hoeing my garden.”

His response has three possible meanings: Either he was satisfied with the quality of his life and saw no need to alter its course; or all his affairs were in order and nothing remained to be done in the limited time he had; or even though he personally would never harvest any of the fruits of his labor, he was content to keep laboring for the benefit of those who came after him.

Sometimes when an event causes people to confront their mortality, they engage in introspection about their relationships and values, they make amends to those they have hurt, and they fundamentally change their lifestyle. Possibly they are stimulated to complete the estate plan they have long postponed and finally take the steps to assure that their wishes will be fulfilled. Maybe they start thinking about the ways they can use lifetime accumulations to make a difference in the lives of the next generation.

One intrepid elderly individual commented that she expected to live for another seven years. Apparently, she based this on her current state of health and the longevity of her relatives. Obviously, we don’t know how long we will be here. That is why a good estate plan should work whether our life is foreshortened or we live to 110. A well-conceived plan, for instance, includes contingencies depending on family circumstances at the end of one’s life.

However, a complete estate plan also is also an affirmation of the meaning of your life–your faith, what you value, your affections, and the ways in which you want your life to have made a difference. One of its main purposes is to provide for the disposition of your assets. Typically, the largest share goes to your family members, but you may also direct some of your assets to your church, NAB ministries, such as the Church Investors Fund, and other charitable organizations you consider to be deserving of support.  

But since you excel in everything – in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in the love we have kindled in you – see that you also excel in this grace of living. – 2 Corinthians 8:7

If you have questions on how you can prepare your garden, then please feel free to reach out to Frank Minton at 206-365-5154, or email him at fdminton@gmail.com . He is a gift planning consultant for the NAB Conference and Church Investors Fund, and there is no charge for his services. So do not hesitate to reach out today.

Then, like St. Francis, you will have the peace of mind of knowing that however long you are blessed with life on earth, you have left nothing undone.