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Finding Hope in a Friend’s Estate

Handling an estate for a friend is different than one for a marriage partner with whom you’ve lived. With your partner, you typically know where insurance policies are, the attorney used, etc.  It’s a difficult task either way. But can we find hope in it?

Handling a friend’s estate reveals things you might not have known about the individual. Our friend, Bob, passed away at the end of October. His wife, one of my best friends, died twelve years ago, and they had no children.

A few years ago, Bob asked if Don and I would be Executors of his Estate. We agreed.

Not surprisingly, the Bob we see as we process his estate is the same man we’ve always known. Solid in his faith, a lover of history, a voracious reader and watcher of movies on their television. And somewhat of a loner.

There have been surprises – like stored checks written in 2007, and handwritten ledgers from his dental practice over thirty years ago.

These past months have been full of hard work, time-consuming efforts, and some wonderful discoveries. And the work continues.

Some Estate Contents

A history professor, Bob probably had about 2000 books.

  • History books on multiple topics
  • Biographies of world leaders and their wives
  • Books about the British royal family which his wife enjoyed, along with well-written novels
  • Vellum paper copies of the Declaration of Independence
  • Itemized lists of books, several hundred videotaped movies, and photo albums of trips he and his wife took together (these I’m sure were the work of his wife)
  • And boxes and boxes of paperwork, which I’ve taken home to review, shred, toss, or keep
  • Bibles and Bible commentaries that showed his love for, and study of, God’s Word
  • Old dental records from his years as my, and others’, dentist
  • And a myriad of towels, household goods, etc., etc., etc.

We’ve also learned, through parts of his home that badly need repair, that Bob’s illness kept him from fixing or repairing areas of need longer than we had realized.

Contents that Express Faith

Bob’s Bible

I knew Bob was committed to following Jesus Christ since the first day I met him and his wife, about forty years ago. But Don and I found several Bibles, all with heavy notations of what a scripture meant to him, or how he understood it.

Today I found a copy of a thank you letter he wrote to his pastor and friend. In part Bob writes:

… I do not remember if I shared this with you years ago, but in the summer of 1967, my next-door neighbor’s son, a student at UCLA, invited me to a meeting of college age students, led by David Roper. The guest speaker that night shared an adventure of how he and others proved how Hannibal did get his elephants over the Alps and into Italy. I do not remember much of what he said, but in closing he shared how Jesus Christ had changed his life. He then invited anyone who wanted, to pray with him and invite Jesus into their hearts. I did without hesitation.

Bob’s beneficiaries include several Christian charitable organizations. In death, as in life, he prepared for his assets to help build God’s Kingdom here on earth.

Will your Estate Reflect the Person People Know Now?

What will people remember or learn about me, about you, when we leave this earth?

You may have a powerful, respected image. But what if your children find porn within the hidden areas of your home? Or obsession with the occult? With material goods? With dark passions?

Or what if instead they find a legacy of interest in multiple subjects? In people? A life built on the solid foundation of faith in the God who sent His Son to die for us, so we might live eternally? A legacy of caring for others in the name of Jesus?

Will we leave a legacy that divides our assets, whatever they may be, in such a way that they help build God’s Kingdom here on earth? I’m speaking to myself here too. My friends know I love beautiful things. But where is my heart? Where is my priority, and does my enjoyment of those sometimes override my love for my God?

Our late Pastor, Tim Wood, used to say

He (Jesus) lived the life I couldn’t live, and died the death I should have died.

What story will the end of our lives tell? Will it be of despair, of earthly treasures, or of hope that is eternal?

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:19-21


  1. Laura Bennet says:

    I’m sorry for the loss of your friend! That looks like my Bible(s) – some taped and no longer usable reside in my hope chest. It’s a true mark of how much your friend loved the word and Jesus! What a blessing to have uncovered that – a true treasure. I pray someone will feel that way about mine someday too and see how much God has to say to us in his word!

    1. Carol Loewen says:

      Thank you Laura. Yes, the true treasures are not silver and gold, but having God’s word in our hearts and on our minds. I pray along with you that others will feel that way about what I leave behind one day.

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