When someone you love dies, is your first thought, “Oh! How much money do I get?”
Think about that for a second. Because you, Gentle Reader, are of a finer class of people, I am guessing that your answer is “No!” However, many of the people that I deal with….that IS the first, and only thing, they think of.
My employer covers a lot of older people…you can talk about baby boom, blah blah blah, but the reality of our organization is that younger people are not working for churches. They are not going into the clergy. Many of our new ministers are “second career” – they did something else for a while, decided to go to seminary, and are starting out all new in their 40s or 50s. They retire, and they die.
Since we have the purse strings, we need to be notified when a member dies. Very often, these calls do not start with, “I need to let you know that my father/mother/spouse/child/friend has died…”, they start with “My (relative) is dead…what’s the life insurance amount, and who is the beneficiary?”
Now, there is a practical element here….funerals are expensive, and often families use the life insurance money to pay for them. Funeral directors, it seems, are tired of not being paid, so they want assurance of payment before they’ll take your loved on in. (We had a very sad case of a member who died and seemed to have been a total recluse…no family, no friends that we could find, and all of his beneficiaries were dead or un-findable. He was in the hospital morgue for months…with no one to collect the life insurance, there was no way to pay for the funeral, and no one would take his body.)
However, it seems like the death of a member is more like winning the lottery. We had a young man a few months ago that was the beneficiary of his “friend’s” retirement account, who called at least once a day trying to get at the money so he could buy stuff. He was about 16 – I’m guessing it was a car.
I have had children call me from their financial planner’s office….within 12 hours of their parent’s death.
Is this where our society is heading? Is it more important to get the money – now – that your loved one has worked hard for, and not to take the time to mourn or honor their memory? Is that all this person is to you – how much you can get for not having them in our life any more?
Maybe that’s the real “death tax”. While I don’t agree with estate taxes (double and triple taxation, anyone?), it breaks my heart to see money-hungry relatives. That degrades the life that has just left, and it makes me lose my faith in humanity just a little bit more.