Dear Friends,

Dennis Valstad had a dry cleaning business in Ripon, Wisconsin.  He was a single man, never married, no children.  He died recently at age 69.  His funeral was conducted at his church, Immanuel United Methodist.  It was a few days later that those who attended were in for a surprise.

They each found letter in their mailbox from a local attorney.  They were informed that Dennis’ will stipulated that his $500,000 estate be divided evenly among those who attended his service.  There were 270 there, which means they each are getting $1,851.  

Who is getting your money when you die?  It’s a good thing to think about before you die.  And it’s a good thing to do more than just think about.  Dying intestate (without a will) creates some real problems for those you leave behind.

I remember someone saying that he wanted to leave enough money to his children to help them but not so much as to hurt them.  Does that make sense?  The stories of people ruined by sudden wealth are legion.

I also remember someone saying that wealth tends to make us more what we already are.  If we are generous and loving, money makes it possible for us to bless the people and causes we care about.  If we are selfish and reckless, there are a lot of ways to spend a lot of money that will ruin lives, our own included.

The video I am sending along includes an interview with Don Jorgensen, executor of the estate. He reads a couple of Dennis Valstad’s New Year’s resolutions:

Find true friends, not be lonely.

Live a life pleasing to God.

I would have liked to be his pastor (and not because I could really use the $1,851!)  He sounds like a great guy.  We have a lot of Dennis Valstads in this church.  Wonderful people.  Humble people.  Sometimes lonely people.  And people who want more than anything else to live a life pleasing to God.

I don’t recommend that you leave your money to those who attend your service.  If that catches on, funeral attendance is going to skyrocket.  But do think about, and pray about the legacy you want to leave behind after your few short years on this earth are over.

In Christ,