In October 2003, my dad’s physician advised him, “Mr. Kaizerman, it’s time to put your life in order.” Suffering the effects of pancreatic cancer, Dad was given only three to six months to live. As you can imagine, our family went through all sorts of emotions, but eventually Dad turned to me and said the time had indeed arrived to put things in order.
As a financial advisor, I already knew much of what that would mean. I went through all the files, locating titles to automobiles, identifying bank and investment accounts, and so on. As I did this with my dad’s guidance, we decided it was also a good time to throw away the stuff that wasn’t needed, like old tax returns and receipts going back twenty or thirty years.
In one drawer, I found Dad’s military discharge paperwork from the 1940s, and I was ready to toss it when he said it was an important document I should save. I thought, It’s been almost sixty years since he completed his service. Why would anyone need to see his discharge paperwork? But, oh well, it was only one more sheet of paper, and obviously it still meant a lot to my father, so I kept it.
Dad’s battle with cancer came to an end in April 2004. My brother and I went to the mortuary to arrange for his burial. In planning the memorial service, the funeral director asked the typical questions, but one took us by surprise: He asked if our dad was a veteran. We replied yes, and he informed us that the federal government provides a complimentary U.S. flag for the coffin of all veterans. Our dad had always been very patriotic, and we knew that this would be important to him.
Only one thing we need, the funeral director advised us: Some information that is on your father’s military discharge paperwork. Did we know where it was? We smiled. Dad had made sure we would know where to find that information. We were so grateful that our dad got his stars and stripes.
Together, Dad and I created the first beneficiary directory, and it worked. Since then, I have developed additional tools for helping people and their advisors create a fully integrated, personal system for putting their own lives in order. For our family, the important form was military discharge paperwork; with someone else it may be an IRA beneficiary designation form, a marriage certificate, or life insurance policy. The Beneficiary Directory™ is your personal system to organize important documents and guide your beneficiaries. On behalf of your beneficiaries, I thank you.
—MARK KAIZERMAN, 2004