"I am thinking of writing up my Letter of Wishes," Rosh announced at the dinner table one evening, "it is important and I've been postponing it too long."
"Is that your wish list, Pa?" Josh asked excitedly, "I've already made mine."
"Kind of," Rosh smiled, "though not quite. A wish list is really what you want while you live. A Letter Of Wishes, or a Letter of Last Instructions, is what you want to happen when you die. It is an informal letter, and not legally binding. But it needs to be signed and dated by you and addressed to your Executors."
"But why are you going to be executed Pa?" asked Josh, "You haven't done anything wrong."
"No," laughed Rosh, "I am not going to be executed. Not yet, I hope, anyway. A word in any language can have many meanings depending on its context."
"In the world of money, an Executor is a person you appoint to carry out your wishes after you are gone. Kind of like Master Oogway appointing Master Shifu in the DreamWorks Animation movie Kung Fu Panda."
"And it is one of the most helpful things you can provide for your family or Executors to guide them on pretty much anything you wish. Hence its name."
"Unlike your Will, your Letter of Wishes does not become a publicly available document on death and therefore should be kept with your Will. It complements your Will, and is where you can list who gets what, especially items like your iPad or car, things that are of limited financial but great sentimental value."
"Once written up, review it along with your Will annually; especially if there have been changes in the family situation since last review, such as deaths, divorce, or birth of child etc. Choose your Executors well, if you want your last wishes honored verbatim, but there can still be some subjective interpretation of your wishes."
"What is subjective interpretation Pa?" Josh asked.
"To interpret means to translate, to read, to see. The subject is the doer. So subjective Interpretation means how the person who is carrying out your instructions sees and understands them. For example, if I said in my Last Wishes, burn all my money with me, and make you its Executor, what would you do?"
"That would be stupid," replied Josh, "I won't do it."
"Well, that is one hell of a subjective interpretation," said Rosh, "if you did that, you wouldn't have honored me or my last wishes. And you would have failed in your duty as my Executor."
"Isn't 'Burning your money' a figure of speech?" Hosh answered thoughtfully, "Like spending too much or wastefully. Isn't it like when we say money is 'burning a hole in my pocket', we mean we dearly want to spend it. Surely, you don't expect us to literally burn it."
"Hmm," Rosh smiled, "so what would you do if you were my Executor?"
"I'd give all your money away to charities you supported in your lifetime," answered Hosh, "straight after your death. That's burning it with you, so none of us can use it."
Rosh's smiled deepened as he looked at his wife.
"That is also a subjective interpretation," he continued, "and what would you do my dear, if you were my Executor?"
"I've never given it any thought," she smiled back, "but since we are doing this exercise to explain different takes, here are some more."
"Finding that he didn't have long to live, a wealthy man summoned his three best friends - his priest, his doctor and his lawyer, to his deathbed to make a final request. He gave them each an envelope filled with cash."
"Who knows what I will find on the other side?" he said, "Just to be sure I have it if I ever need it there, here's a million dollars each to be held in trust for me by each of you. I entrust this amount to you, to put in my coffin when I die as I don't trust my family to honor my wishes in this regard."
"But Ma, a million dollars is a lot of money," Josh objected, "it won't even come in an envelope?"
"Yes, it will." Rosh came to her aid, "In May 2009, there were still 336 USD 10,000 notes in circulation. If he used those, how many notes would be in each envelope?"
"100," Josh answered reflexively.
"Great," Hosh was impressed, "how did you divide that fast in your head?"
"I didn't," Josh answered, "A million has six zeroes, and a $10,000 note will have four. Six minus four is two, so there will be two zeroes left. There are two zeroes in a 100. So he'll need a hundred $10,000 notes in each envelope to make a million in cash. But, I've never seen a $10,000 note. Have you Ma?"
"No, but we can Google it," she answered, "Anyway, all three of the man's friends took the envelope and agreed to fulfill his last wish. He died soon after and at the funeral each friend dutifully slipped an envelope into the casket just before it was lowered into the grave and buried."
At the wake, the three men found themselves huddled together.
The doctor confided, "I have to admit I kept $100,000 dollars of his money. He owed me that for his terminal medical bills. But, I threw in the rest like he wanted."
"It was for a good cause," he justified, "And I don't think the afterlife has a cash economy anyway."
The lawyer was aghast.
"You bunch of crooks!" he swore at them, "Don't expect me for endorse such swindles. I wrote him a check for the full amount!"
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