April 4, 2021

The answer to the title of this post needs to be answered. Don’t you agree? Many need to know what I’m writing about in this post but have no clue as to the correct answer.

I’ve lived long enough to have seen firsthand what has happened to fortunes after someone dies. All too often there are many unintended consequences. That’s because the deceased did not have an ironclad will or just left everything up to the children or other family members to “just do the right thing” with the deceased person’s assets.

Often, I’ve seen what some may call poetic justice with a deceased person’s assets.

I knew a man many years ago who had become quite wealthy by early middle age. His problem was that he was tight as the bark on a tree when it came to using his wealth properly – he wanted, and did, spend most of his money on himself and his having a good time. His philosophy was “I earned it” why not show myself a good time. I’ll only be here a certain number of years. He spent little money on his wife and children. Just necessities. His wife finally got enough of his selfishness and greed and divorced him. He bought her out with a pittance of what she deserved. She just wanted out.

Less than a year later, he married a “trophy wife.” She was much younger and prettier than his former wife. She was just what he needed to take to all the parties and social events he liked to be involved in. But his new wife was not a dummy. She made him sign an agreement giving her all his assets when he died (even nothing for his children), plus the requirement that he take out a million-dollar insurance policy with her as the only beneficiary.

They weren’t married a year when he died of a massive heart attack.

People who knew this man had for years wondered where he was going to spend all his money. Now we know. Someone else is enjoying “his” money. And the trophy wife married a new husband within a year after his death. Would that be poetic justice? You decide.

Great answers to the above question come from the Bible.

I love the story of the successful farmer who had such a bumper crop one year and wondered where he was going to put his huge harvest. He said to himself, “I will tear down all my small barns and build bigger barns. For now, I have enough to eat, drink and be merry for many years to come.”

Jesus told this story as a parable. And Jesus said it was told to the rich man,” Thou fool, this night your soul will be required of you and whose barns and wealth will these things be? Friends, that’s not meant to be a rhetorical question. Think about the answer.

Yes, that rich farmer loved his money. People often cite the verse from the Bible that the root of all evil is the love of money. I’ve seen this too in my life. One does not need to be a wealthy person to love their money. One can love a dollar as much as some may love a million dollars. I bet you’ve seen this too, right?

Most people don’t know that the Bible says more about money and how to use it than it does about heaven. One may learn a lot about people by the way they use money. It’s very telling.

One certainty about one’s assets after death is taxes. It would take a book to write about that. One person told another, “there are only two certainties in life – death, and taxes.” The other responded, “Yes, but death doesn’t get worse every time Congress meets.”

I tell a story sometimes about a rich man whose death was imminent. He called for a meeting of his lawyer, his accountant, and his pastor. He told them he was not sure about where he was going after death and he made each man swear they would put $50, 000 each in his casket upon his death, and he had the cash there with him at the meeting to trust them to do so. He said, “I may need that money where ever I end up.”

The man died soon after the meeting and the lawyer, accountant, and pastor met up with each other. They began to discuss whether each man put the $50,000 cash in the deceased’s casket. The accountant admitted he did not. He used $10,000 of the money to remodel his office. The lawyer said he did not put the full amount in the casket either – he used $10,000 on a certain investment. The pastor began shaming them for breaking the deceased man’s trust. Then they began questioning the pastor. You mean you put that entire $50,000 into a casket just to know it would rot and do no good for anybody? The pastor replied, “I put in my personal check for the full amount.”

Andrew Carnegie, the industrialist, who at one time was considered to be the richest man in the world made a great statement in a booklet he wrote called THE GOSPEL OF WEALTH. He stated that a man who died with money died disgraced.

I agree with his statement. One of my gripes is to see people who have enough money to burn a wet mule, refusing to give some of the money they are not needing to their heirs BEFORE they die. There are at least two tragedies with that attitude of keeping it all as long as I can. (1) Not giving some of their money to children for example who may be overloaded with debt such as mortgages, car payments, college funds for their children, etc. And (2) Not seeing the joy their children and grandchildren show when using those much-needed funds.

My Mother and Daddy were not rich. But my mother, more than any other person I ever knew did not have one greedy or selfish bone in her. She would literally give someone the shirt off her back if they needed it. She often told me, “Doesn’t the Lord say that if we have two coats to give one to somebody who has none”? That’s just one of the great things Mother is remembered for.

I want you to trust me with this closing statement. In all my years of pastoring, and the untold number of funerals I officiated,  I never saw one casket filled with money to take to “the other side.” Think about that.

God Bless,
Spencer and Sandra Plumley

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