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Afraid of dying, death or both?

/ 12:07 AM August 13, 2014

QUESTION: My father’s family has a history of dying young. I am afraid that I might go through the same shortened life expectancy especially since I had just crossed midlife. But death is not exactly a topic my wife and I discuss. Can you provide some guidance? Posted at PFA’s “ask a friend, ask Efren” service at www.personalfinance.ph

Answer: First ask if you are afraid of dying, death or both? Dictionaries are one in saying that dying is the process of gradually ceasing to exist or function. It is not yet death per se. Death, on the other hand, is the end of life.

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I would like to think that the average person would not want to live forever as they will run out of friends to chat with on social media. But seriously, a person will be afraid of dying because of the pain and misery that he will go through on the physical, emotional, spiritual and financial levels. Not only will he experience such pain and misery, but also his family.

They say that stress is the number one killer. Too much stress can accelerate death. The problem we have with stress is that it causes changes in our body, changes that are too subtle to notice at first. Many times, we just get wind of the disease when it is too late.  And then we exclaim, “but there were no symptoms!”

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It is only natural to expect that mankind will try to prolong its existence. Part of its instinct is for survival. To this end, mankind has done a commendable job.

Based on worldlifeexpectancy.com, the average life expectancy of the Japanese for both males and females stretched out from 67.7 years in 1960 to 82.2 years in 2010. For Americans, it rose from 69.8 years in 1960 to 78.2 years in 2010. For the Thais, their average life expectancy extended from 55.1 years in 1960 to 75 years in 2010. And for our dear country, our average life expectancy lengthened from 53.4 years in 1960 to 71.4 years in 2010.

But guess what. All people will still go through death.

Counting out life after death, as this will lead to a very long discussion depending on one’s belief, pain and misery will go away for the person who just died. In fact, if a person dies instantly, like in a horrific accident, he would skip the pain and misery of dying.

However, pain and misery will still continue for those left behind.

I would like to believe that you are like all other fathers—a loving husband, a stern yet caring parent and a good provider. Your family looks up to you as their hero. They probably just don’t say it that often. And as a hero-father, you are probably more afraid of the impact of dying and death on your family than on yourself.

As early as you can, sit them down and tell them that while you may not be able to take away their physical, emotional and spiritual pain seeing you at your deathbed and eventually at your memorial services, you will at least be able to minimize their financial pain and help them get back on their feet in no time. This is where proper estate planning comes in.

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Please note that it has to be proper estate planning, which actually also considers the welfare of the estate owner while he is building up his wealth. You would not want to be breaking your back creating your wealth your whole life only to pass it on to your heirs.

And if your family immediately shuts you out even when you just hint at your death, you can still execute proper estate planning.  What I am going to say is not to endorse any company. Plus neither my company nor I on a personal basis sell this or any financial product. But using life insurance is one easy, effective and tax-exempt device for executing proper estate planning; provided you designate your beneficiaries as irrevocable.

To be sure, there are other devices to execute proper estate planning. Grab a Filipino-authored book so that the appropriate laws, rules and regulations apply.

And if you still want to talk to and be tutored by a subject matter expert, you may want to attend one of the 2014 EnRich™ Estate Planning training runs happening in Cagayan de Oro (Sept. 6), Iloilo (Sept. 12), Angeles (Sept. 19), Cebu (Sept. 26), Davao (Oct. 3) and Manila (Oct. 10). Email [email protected] or SMS 0917-505-0709 for details. Details for the training as well as for our free EnRich™ personal finance training may also be found in www.personalfinance.ph.

Cheers to all the hero-fathers.

(Efren Ll. Cruz is a Registered Financial Planner of RFP Philippines, personal finance coach, seasoned investment adviser and bestselling author. Questions about the article may be sent by SMS to 0917-505-0709 or emailed to [email protected] To learn more about the RFP program, attend a FREE orientation on Aug. 28, 7 p.m. at the PSE Center. Email [email protected] or text <name><e-mail><RFP> at 0917-3464126 to register.)

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TAGS: Business, column, death, efren Ll. Cruz, life expectancy, stress
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