In hindsight, as mind-numbing and rage-provoking as the last five years have been for me moonlighting as the sole executor of his estate, there are some invaluable lessons that I've picked up during the process-ones that have had an impact on my approach to finances and life.
In many respects, understanding "personal finance" is easy when it is about annual year-ends and accounts balances. On the other hand, it is quite another matter when you look at personal finance over the life of an individual, and yet another still when you become the executor to that individual's estate.
Since we will not live long enough to make all of life's mistakes, it is prudent to learn from the mistakes of others. In this spirit, there is much wisdom to be gleaned from a recent autobiographical article in Forbes titled "What My Dad's Death Taught Me About Money."
As you read this article, there are many lessons the daughter and only child of the decedent learns in her role as executor. The unfortunate fact is that these lessons were learned the hard way and unnecessarily. I highly recommend reading the full article, but her are the essential takeaways:
Lesson #1: Everyone Should Have an Estate Plan ... or at Least a Will
Lesson #2: Adequate Medical Insurance is a Must
Lesson #3: Mental Breaks Trump Burgeoning Bank Accounts
It is less painful and less expensive to learn from the mistakes of others, especially when it comes to estate planning. One of the best and last gifts you can leave your loved ones is a well-planned and organized estate.