I had friend; we’ll call him Fabian.
Fabian was a middle-aged, cool and responsible guy. He was financially comfortable for he had various business ventures going. We usually hang out together because we are good friends and belonged to the same sports club. Fabian was a complete family man. His love for his wife and children was immense. At a point, my wife uses him as a reference point on how we men should take care of them. Then one day, unexpectedly tragedy struck!
I was chilling one Saturday morning after some exercises when the call came, from his driver.
“Hello sir, e be like say oga Fabian don die,” his driver announced over the phone.
“Which Fabian?” I queried, as fear griped me
“Oga Fabian, your friend sir, he was in an accident,” he responded.
Still on the phone, I grabbed my car keys and started racing down to the hospital he was describing to me. Few hours later, I confirmed that indeed that my good friend whom I just had some workout sessions with few hours ago was gone. It was shocking as it was devastating! We had a herculean task deciding how to break the sad news to his wife, when we eventually did, she passed out.
It was during his burial preparations that it became glaring that though Fabian and his wife were ‘close,’ she knew little about him and he made little provision for his day of reckoning. First she had to rely on us friends for the hospital and mortuary bills because she didn’t know his ATM PIN. Secondly, when I suggested she do a mobile transfer from his account to hers so she can at least to take care of some of the home expenses, she didn’t know his mobile phone password, let alone bank mobile app token/PIN. So in a matter of few weeks after his passing, Fabian’s family became cash strapped for a man who had several tens of millions in the bank.
We crowd-funded and gave him a good burial. But it wasn’t long, I noticed that my late friend’s wife has gone into serious depression not just because she lost her husband, but because she could no longer cater for her four young children. I later learned that banks frustrated her efforts to recover her husband’s funds, she was almost giving up hope when an insider in the bank took pity on her and gave her some insider information that made her have a breakthrough. Again, it wasn’t long after this ordeal, his husband’s kinsmen came calling to throw her out and share his estate. We fought alongside her a fight that could have been avoided if Fabian did proper things while he was alive.
Death is not a strange phenomenon; it is part of the duality of nature. It is certain and inevitable, but its potency rests in its unpredictability. Only death know when death will come. Fact! Why then does death catch us unprepared, though we are aware that it will surely visit irrespective of time?
Here is the thing, we need to make more effort in making arrangements for how we want things to be after we are gone to avoid unnecessary squabbles and shoddy representation of facts. Why not make things be done on your own terms by taking care of the following business?
Will and Testament:
Don’t get upset and accuse me of wishing you death. Making a Will actually forces you to think about your own mortality. Making a Will is not only about planning for your death, but it is also about ensuring that your loved ones are adequately protected. It is, in fact, one of the most critical things that you can do for your loved ones. Talk to a lawyer today, so that your loved have nothing to argue with your village people tomorrow.
Many may not like to hear this, but it is either you make your spouse a signatory to your account(s) or disclose to her/him how to access your funds in case of your death or incapacitation. Failure to provide you spouse/partner with direct access to your funds will leave your children or dependents impoverished even though you have money in the bank. Unfortunately, Nigerian banks are notorious at making the process of accessing funds left behind by a deceased spouse very tedious and almost impossible even when you have all the documentations right. Don’t let bankers steal from you and deprive your family of needed funds when you are no longer on the scene.
It is a known fact that our society is saturated in grand superstition. Most deaths are not ‘ordinary’, someone somewhere must have caused it. This makes women mostly targets of opprobrium upon their husband’s death. Save your wife this inane actions by disclosing to your extended family members of any life-threatening disease you may be suffering from before it kills you so that no one will accuse your wife of killing you.
Past/Extra Relationship Disclosure:
As a man, do you have a love child outside of your current relationship? Did you at any time believe you may have fathered a child with someone in the past? Better for you to share the details with your spouse now that you are alive and deal with the consequences than leaving it till after your demise. It may completely tear your family apart and erase the good memory about you.
Full Disclosure of Properties:
Hiding your properties from your spouse for whatever reason is a foolish idea. It is either you die and leave the properties for your children or family members or you hide it from them and allow strangers and vandals to decimate your toil with utter disregard, it is your choice.
No one can tell your story better than you. Don’t wait for folks who don’t have all the information to write about you. Take your time and write the story of your life. Write it with all the details, colours and embellishments that you would want your life’s story to have. Select the picture you would like to be used for brochure cover and other pictures you would want to be part of your story. Update it as life progresses.
Biko, specify in clear terms how you wish to be buried so that your corpse won’t be subjected to an avoidable indignity. We have seen instances where Christians and cult groups were dragging the corpse of a dead man. If you wouldn’t like to be swayed from side to side like jangle over by pallbearers, kindly state so. If you would want to be buried the same day no matter the circumstance, kindly share it with your family members. Heck, you can even make other arrangements like choosing your burial clothes, site, hymns, and even bible readings and who should read them.
Making these decisions now doesn’t mean that you are wishing death on yourself as some superstitious folks would want you to believe, it simply mean that you are in tune with your mortality and the inevitability of it. These information and plans should always be updated as life progresses. Don’t allow folks you rarely know be the one to make decisions on your behalf, put matters in your own hand now so that even from the great beyond you can still be in charge.
In This Life, something is always at stake.
Young Ozogwu writes from Abuja. You can follow him on Twitter @youngies