Reflecting upon Charles Lindbergh

Charles Lindbergh, born February 4, 1902, lived his life of triumph and tragedy always in the public eye. His landmark trans-Atlantic flight made him the first person to spend one day in New York and the next day in Paris. He used his fame to promote commercial aviation and air mail. Towards the end of his life, he promoted land conservation and dedicated a public park in Little Falls, Minnesota in honor of his father, a congressman. He aspired to use his influence to make the world a better place. We are looking back this month to explore his estate planning activities when he was diagnosed with lymphoma.

Lindbergh returned to Maui to live out his final few weeks. While undergoing radiotherapy and chemotherapy, he planned his memorial for his children and grandchildren. Lindbergh made specific arrangements for his body by selecting his grave and a simple coffin, and writing his wishes for funeral services, such as requesting that people attend in their working clothes. He defined, through Advance Directives, which treatments he would approve (e.g., home-based nursing care, oxygen, analgesia, and a Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) request), should he not be able to communicate his wishes himself. The size of his estate required careful consideration for designating his beneficiaries and determining what parts of his estate they would each receive. He intended to make his funeral a simple one, itself a constructive act.

Estate planning is a difficult task for people to address. In his final weeks, Lindbergh's careful planning while faced with a terminal disease is a testament to his consideration of his family. The best time to plan your estate and final wishes, or to update an old plan, is today. I can guide you through the planning and documentation needed to help your survivors know how to settle your estate.