By Dan Barney
Perhaps, by planning ahead, we can benefit from the wisdom and frustration expressed in the Book of Ecclesiastes, Chapter 2, Verses 17-21 wherein the author expresses frustration at the hopelessness of acquiring wealth that is only to pass to someone else, who may be unqualified or unwise.
Aside from the theological lessons in this passage that are really most important, there is a very practical application for planning.
The New International Reader's Version of Ecclesiastes states:
"...It’s like chasing the wind. 18 I hated everything I had worked for on earth. I’ll have to leave all of it to someone who lives after me. 19And who knows whether he will be wise or foolish? Either way, he’ll take over everything on earth I’ve worked so hard for. That doesn’t have any meaning either. 20 So I began to lose hope because of all my hard work on this earth. 21A man might use wisdom, knowledge and skill to do his work. But then he has to leave everything he owns to someone who hasn’t worked for it. That doesn’t have any meaning either. In fact, it isn’t fair."
With modern planning, there is the opportunity to create meaning from whatever wealth you have gained – to use your wealth at death to help others via charitable gifts, support for family or friends and to pick not only the persons who can share in the benefits of your work but also enable you to select conscientious and caring people to carry out your objectives.
The lack of control expressed in the passage above does not have to occur.
From a secular standpoint, good planning via a will, trust or other gifts at or prior to death, does enable a person to control both the disposition of their wealth and the selection of persons who will carry out that plan.
A person can create meaningful applications for those assets that will continue to provide ongoing benefits to others into the future.
In fact, wise use of assets after death can complement and add to a person's implementation of their beliefs.
Perhaps the expression of hopelessness in Ecclesiastes can become a source of hope for others in the future.