I saw Avengers: Endgame with my wife and kids. (Warning, Spoiler’s Ahead).
Overall, I really liked the movie. Any time you’ve got time travel involved in a film, you can drive yourself nuts trying to connect the dots for different timelines and trying to figure out if changing the past alters the future, etc. Sometimes I over-think it and spend so much time focusing on time-travel issues that I forget to just sit back and enjoy the movie.
Like any real fan of the Marvel movie franchise, I was bummed out to see Tony Stark (aka Iron Man) die. He had a daughter and seemed to be happy with his life. Still, he put his personal happiness aside to do the whole time-travel thing, for the good of humanity. He sacrificed himself for the world and his daughter. As a dad, I was saddened by this, but I understood it.
There’s nothing I wouldn’t do for my kids – lie down in traffic, take a bullet, and even more traumatic, play hours of tea parties and board games to keep them happy when they were little.
Nowadays it’s hours of baseball games and dance competitions. Still, I take it for granted that I’m going to be around to watch them grow into adults and that someday down the line my wife and I will play these same games with our grandkids.
Anyways, I was trying not to think about all of that when I was in the theater because I didn’t want to look like a blubbering idiot crying over a movie. Lucky for me, it’s dark in there.
In my business, I deal with death. It’s just a fact of what I do. People come to me when a loved one has passed away, or perhaps when a loved one is ill and getting toward the end of their life. In some cases, I do estate plans, or I handle the last Will for someone that has passed on. While I might prepare all of the legal documents (Wills, Trusts, etc.) there are other things to think about.
So here are there things that I hope Tony Stark did before he died and really, what all of us should do if we have kids so that they are taken care of if we pass away:
- If the worst happened, and your kids had to go live with guardians, it’s a good idea to leave some instructions. Depending on their ages, some helpful info might be:
- What do your kids like to do for fun? Sports? Clubs? Volunteering?
- What are they afraid of? Scary movies? The dentist? Needles? Brussels sprouts?
- What things are they allergic to? For me, I was allergic to basically everything!
Don’t be afraid to record a video with this information as well. We may see some deleted scenes in the new release where Tony left some messages for his daughter. Do the same. We might not all have hologram machines to leave messages, but video and pictures are almost good!
I am actually working on a “Letter of Instruction for Guardians” right now, for my clients, that can be filled out very easily. If you want a copy, email me at [email protected] and request it. We will send you a downloadable version at no charge.
- Make sure that they are as financially secure as possible. If your kids have to be raised by someone else, at least have the decency to leave life insurance or other assets to the guardians if you can. You don’t want to be the person that says “thanks for taking care of my kids since I’m dead. But I didn’t leave you any money to do it with. Good luck”.
Also, leave your kids a few specific items that will remind them of you. My loves my fancy wristwatches. My documents make sure he gets them.
Obviously, if you’re Tony Stark’s kid, you’re all set in that department. But for the rest of us, life insurance can be the best, and most cost-effective, way to provide for your family if you’re gone.
- Write them letters. The next best thing to video and photos would be written words from mom and dad.
I am trying to get into the habit of writing my kids each a letter every year, and putting it with my estate documents. I want to remind them of how proud I am of them, how much I enjoy watching them grow, seeing them rise to meet challenges, and succeed. To see them turn into kind and honest people, who are willing to help others. We all think that our kids know how we feel, but if we’re not around to tell them anymore, a letter is a great thing.
Maybe include some funny memories of mom and dad. For example, I wore a Captain’s hat while boarding a cruise for our family vacation. My children were mortified – it was a parenting epic win!
Again, Tony might have holographic computer images and robotic messengers, but for the rest of us, put pen to paper. I’ve seen clients do it, and really, it helps. Want more proof, take a look at this article in the Washington Post. This young man found a letter that his mom wrote before he died, and he was so thankful for it, calling it “the best gift (his mother) ever gave him”.
It might be silly to compare myself to Tony Stark - my kids probably would say that a more apt comparison is Professor X, from the X-Men, because we have matching haircuts.
Let’s face it - most of us aren’t superheroes. We won't travel back in time, save the universe, and battle monsters and creatures from other planets. But here’s the kicker: to our kids, we are superheroes. We are who they strive to be, who they emulate, and who they look up to. While I might not be Tony Stark, The Hulk, or Thor, I know that I have a superhero-sized heart.
I want to be there for my family and watch them grow. But by spending a little time taking the steps above, I can help secure my place in their lives, even after I’m gone. Do you want to know more about this? Educate yourself by going HERE and get a copy of my book on Estate Planning.