• Brent D Dickerson CFP® EA

Derek Wade Brewster Memorial

This week marks the 2nd anniversary of the death of a good friend of mine. He was a paramedic in the Amarillo area, and his death was a tragedy for not only his friends and family, but also for the lifesaving community in and around the Panhandle. He was 37 years old at the time of his death and he left behind too many survivors still in need of his support. Derek Brewster was one of those people that always seemed to have a smile and always seemed in good spirits. His personality was one that attracted many friends and those friends enjoyed spending time with him. Without Derek’s Joie de Vivre, I wouldn’t have experienced two of the most memorable journeys of my life. The first was an exciting cross country drive through most of the western United States just after my high school graduation. The second, unfortunately, was the recent trip to Alaska where his brother spread Derek’s ashes.

I tell this heartbreaking story because I want the memory of Derek to live on, but also because I know that there will be a time, as with all memories, that those with him will fade and eventually vanish. This is one reason why I have devoted my financial planning practice to encouraging charitable estate plans. We all know we will soon die. Whether it is tomorrow or 60 years from now, it is an inevitability of life. We all believe that we have tomorrow, and for most of us that is the truth. However, we don’t all have forever, and so it becomes vital that no matter how difficult it is for us to face our own mortality, we must.

Derek, regrettably, had no financial plan. He had no plans for his future, his family’s future, nor his legacy. I am often reminded of an episode from the TV show Seinfeld. Jerry is attending George’s fiancé’s funeral and states that, “[Susan]’s not really dead if we find a way to remember her.” That simple line, which Jerry took from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, sparked Susan’s family to create a foundation in her name to carry on her legacy.

While my story is personal to me, I know that each of you reading this letter have a similar story in some way. A story of a loved one who died tragically or prematurely – a death of someone whom had more to give to this world if only they had had more time. It’s so common it is why we have the saying: “the good die young.”

Since specializing in charitable planning, I have spoken to many people who have grabbed hold of their unfortunate circumstances and turned them into positives. Derek’s brother has taken this tragedy and has started a permanent scholarship fund in Derek’s name so that future paramedics will always know Derek Brewster, and in that way he will always live on. Others I have met have started a foundation that helps young, grieving parents who have lost a child within the first year of life to help pay for funeral costs, exorbitant medical bills, or even daily costs of living while caring for the ailing infant.

On this anniversary of my friend’s death, I would hope that this story has motivated many to action. We all have stories of need and many have the capability to help. Leaving a permanent legacy, through the addition of charitable bequests in estate documents, is one of the best ways to honor and maintain the memory of the life of a departed loved one.

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