A Parting Gift to Your Family: Write Your Own Obituary, Gather Photos, & Plan Your Memorial Service

I recently had the privilege of speaking at a Lion Street Trusted Advisors Conference in Las Vegas. My topic was the “Red File,” a roadmap of information for your family and agents to follow in four areas: your incapacity, your death, business succession planning, and passing down a family legacy. The Red File provides critical information your team needs to know in order to carry out your wishes, but this is information not contained in your estate documents. Therefore, The Blum Firm created a Red File Checklist to help you assemble this information. You can access our Red File Checklist here.

The Red File Checklist is forever a work-in-progress. We continue to add to it as new ideas come to us. While speaking in Las Vegas, the idea hit me of an important addition to the Red File: give your family the gift of planning for your own memorial service and obituary.

This idea grew out of an experience I had at a group meeting I attended for TIGER 21, a network of investors who come together to learn and serve as a “personal board of directors” for each other. One of my colleagues commented what a difficult week he just had, having lost his father-in-law days ago. He lamented the struggle of having only a couple of days to handle all the funeral arrangements, write an obituary, and gather photos for a slide show of lifetime highlights, all while coping with the heartbreak of loss.

At that point, the chair of my group gave me an assignment: over the next month, I was to write my own obituary and collect memorable photos to put on a digital file. The task was arduous, even in the best of circumstances. Imagine how much harder it would be for family members to do this on my behalf, during the first days of the grieving process. I realized that drafting an obituary (to be later updated/modified) and gathering photos was a true act of love to those we leave behind.

Click here to read my “pre-obituary.” I also created a digital file of photos that tell my pictorial life story. We’ve added the tasks of writing a “pre-obituary” and making a digital file of photos to The Blum Firm’s Red File Checklist, and I included them in my own Red File. I urge you to pause and give your family a gift of doing the same for them.

Marvin E. Blum

Marvin Blum speaking on the “Red File” in Las Vegas.