Only Ten Years to Live

Contributed by Lewis J. Walker, CFP®

Writing about the death of Roger Ailes, Jenny Stanton,, referenced the 2013 biography, Roger Ailes Off Camera by Zev Chafets. Ailes was a controversial political consultant who became a master of television news and opinion. He passed away on May 18, 2017, just after his 77th birthday.

Roger Ailes had ongoing health challenges, including hemophilia, prostate problems, joint problems, and trouble walking. Ailes told Chafets that just before he turned 72, given ill health, "The actuaries say I have six to eight years. The best tables give me ten." Turns out, he had only five years to live.

If you were told today that at most you had but ten years to live, what would you do? What would you put behind you? What would you begin?

The first wave of the baby boomer surge turned 70 last year, so "retirement" is a hot topic. Retirement is a redirection of meaning and purpose and a change in daily activities. While some may proclaim that they will "never retire," potential illness or incapacity, and death are realities to be reckoned with. Given the Age Wave, for those who have worked much of their lives, key people in a business, business owners, and professionals, questions loom about "what's next and how do I handle it?" A spouse, who also has worked and/or was a stay-at-home parent, may have similar questions.

When you think about a change in direction, voluntary or involuntary, you might ask, how important is what I do (my job, business, profession) to my financial security and independence, and that of my family or others who depend on me? How does what I do play into meaning and purpose, before I step down, and after?

Once I no longer am working for a living, how will my interaction with family and loved ones change? In thinking about family dynamics, a 2003 book, Wealth In Families, by Charles W. Collier, senior philanthropic adviser at Harvard University, suggests useful questions. The book is aimed at families with significant wealth, yet the ponderings apply to everyone, even those who don't feel wealthy, but by many yardsticks, are.

As you frame your post-retirement future, or the future of your family after your departure from this earthly plane, consider questions that govern estate planning decisions as well as what you will do with your remaining life. What really is important to you and your family? What should you do to guide and support the life journey of each family member over time? How wealthy do you want your children to be? Does your family have charitable and societal goals important to them? How will you participate?

Roger Ailes may have had the biography written because of legacy objectives. Envision your celebration of life service. What would you want said about you?  What do you want your children and grandchildren to learn from you, to remember? Do you feel any personal responsibilities beyond your family? How does spirituality and philanthropy influence your value system?

Dan Sullivan, The Strategic Coach, said, "Always make your future bigger than your past." Once you retire, sell or step down from your business, how will you make your future bigger than your past? How will you maintain meaning, purpose, and health, eliminating boredom? What's on your bucket list?

At a men's group meeting at church, the topic of study was the Holy Land. Of the six men at the table, one had not visited Israel. The retired gentleman said, "I would like to go...someday." Eliminate "someday." Set a date. Find a pilgrimage group. Go!

What is your vision of the future? What’s your family's vision of their future and does it jive with yours?

Roger Ailes reportedly had a net worth north of $100 million. Ailes is survived by his third wife and a 16 year-old son, having become a first time dad at age 60. One has to wonder about the impact of a substantial fortune on his family? Roger is gone. The wealth is still here.

What have you put in place for your family and surviving loved ones? If the Lord took you tomorrow, are plans current? Are legal documents in place? How would you answer the above questions? How would you answer God’s questions?

What do you want to do that is yet undone? What do you need to do that is yet undone?


Lewis Walker is a financial planning and investment strategist at Capital Insight Group; 770-441-2603.  Securities and advisory services offered through The Strategic Financial Alliance, Inc. (SFA). Lewis Walker is a registered representative and investment adviser representative of  SFA which is otherwise unaffiliated with Capital Insight Group. 

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