Pope Benedict XVI’s announcement of his resignation … surprised the world. But while there’s only one pope, there are thousands of other professionals – including chief executives, entrepreneurs, university professors with tenure and artists – who face a similar conundrum: When you’ve got a job for life with no official retirement age, how do you know when it’s time to go?

Have you heard the news? Pope Benedict XVI will be the first pope to step down from his post in 600 years. Beyond the future-trivia questions, any question of religious affiliation, or the political scandals, there is a lesson to be learned and some important personal questions to be considered against this historic backdrop.

While you may not have the same problems or responsibilities as the Pope, have you reflected on your own future and when may be time to step down? This especially is true if you have no mandatory retirement age for your position.

A recent Marketwatch article titled “Retirement lessons from Pope Benedict” explored this timely issue. Whether you are the Pope, a business owner, or even a CEO there is always the question of succession. Aside from the business aspects, on a personal level make sure your advance health directives are current in the event you became infirm or incapacitated. While you are at it, a good top-to-bottom review of your estate planning likely is in order.

So, if you are responsible for millions of souls or just a few, the basic teaching point is the same. As the Boy Scouts famously advise – be prepared!

For more information, please visit my estate planning website.

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