I shall be 70 in August 2022. I have a 401(k), a checkbook and a life-insurance policy.
My younger brother has drug-related dementia, so I see no point in giving him money. He has already proven that he cannot spend wisely. Hopefully, I shall outlive him.
Here is my dilemma: I have no family or relatives who I know, or care to know. I have no interest in “causes” or “charities” for the same reason.
I do not believe in charities, as I do not approve of the “liberal” donations of whatever charity I would choose. Nothing or no-one seems to interest me to bequeath my estate.
My older brother was a Vietnam casualty, but each and every Vietnam charity is either staffed by angry veterans, or run by people too young to remember the war or its disasters.
I do not have a will. Where do I leave my money? I do not know what to do.
You have very strong opinions about charities and causes. If this dilemma related your estate allows you to reflect on your life, that’s a positive development. The only thing that is required of us — I believe — is that we leave this world in the same condition upon which we entered it or, ideally, we leave it in even better shape. Our job is to get in and get out of the world without breaking anything.
Intestacy laws vary from state to state. In New York, for example, if you die intestate, without a will, and you have no immediate relatives left walking this earth — no spouse, parent, sibling, or descendants of siblings that survive you — your assets will be divided between your father’s and mother’s relatives. That’s after legal fees. So think seriously about a will, and what you will write in it.
Of course, not all charities for Vietnam War veterans are staffed with angry people, just as not all “causes” are somehow innately useless or corrupt. No two people are alike, and they volunteer their time — the most valuable commodity on this planet and more valuable than any 401(k) or bank account — because they want to help other people and to be of service to those less fortunate than themselves.
If you don’t trust or like other people, that’s your prerogative. I have no knowledge of your life, or what you have gone through. Not everyone has had positive experiences with loving, supportive and nourishing people when they were young. Of course, that will influence how we view the world. It could easily lead to a lack of trust in the motives of people or institutions. Who could blame you for that?
You’re not alone in your nihilistic outlook. Sometimes, I quietly feel like we don’t deserve animals. We, humans, often treat them so badly. There are few things more gut-wrenching than a dog or cat or horse or elephant or any animal that has been mistreated. So if you want to leave something behind that makes the world a kinder, gentler place, help give an animal a forever home.
Look at videos online to see the transformation of a dog or cat that was abused, and see how the light returns to their eyes, their fear gradually lifts and their trust in the world is restored. Help a senior pet that has been abandoned to find a forever home. We all have a finite amount of time on this planet. What a gift and a privilege to make it a happy lifetime for even one defenseless creature.
If you want to undo the damage that the worst people have inflicted on the world, this is one non-partisan way to do it. Turn your jaded outlook into gold. No one needs to know. The rescued animals will never know how or why they avoided a fate worse than death. They came into this world with no expectations other than to live in the moment, and maybe — if they’re lucky — experience a little bit of love.
Check out the Moneyist private Facebook group, where we look for answers to life’s thorniest money issues. Readers write in to me with all sorts of dilemmas. Post your questions, tell me what you want to know more about, or weigh in on the latest Moneyist columns.
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