By Treasurer David McRae
Life can be full of unknowns. Will I get into a good college? Will I find a strong partner? Will I be able to retire when I want? Will I be able to stay healthy? In some cases, the only thing we can do is lay the unknowns in God’s hands. In other cases, such as in our financial planning, we can take steps to better prepare for what is to come.
Understandably, estate planning (or the plan for where our possessions and finances will go after we pass) is a conversation none of us want to have, but it’s essential to making sure the people and causes we care about are taken care of when we pass on. To illustrate this, let me tell the story of Mrs. Zeita Parker.
Mrs. Parker had many conversations with her financial planner about the wishes she had for her estate when she passed. She made clear to him that she wanted the Mississippi Schools for the Deaf and Blind to have additional funding for birthday parties and other special events each year. But when she passed, her wishes were, for a time being, lost in translation. Without a next of kin, her estate was left in limbo.
After five years of uncertainty, the funds were turned over to my team at the State Treasury. From here, it was our responsibility to find the proper owner.
Last Christmas, we started putting the puzzle pieces of this open-ended story together. After some time and effort, the narrative began to unfold. In collaboration with the Community Foundation of Mississippi, the unclaimed money was matched with its rightful owner and a contribution was made to the Mississippi Schools for the Deaf and Blind, as Mrs. Parker had wished. For years to come, students will now be able to celebrate life milestones – from birthdays to proms to academic accomplishments – because of her incredible generosity.
Fortunately, this story has a happy ending. But the delayed and uncertain gratification can serve as a helpful reminder for the rest of us to consider estate planning of our own. In the meantime, I also encourage you to search for unclaimed money in your name or a loved one’s at treasury.ms.gov/Search.
Having a few difficult conversations today can help avoid any uncertainty or delay in delivering your end-of-life gifts. Please consider doing so. After all, doesn’t life have enough unknowns already?
Mississippi Treasurer David McRae is the 55th Treasurer for the State of Mississippi. In this role, he helps manage the state’s cash flow, oversees College Savings Mississippi, and has returned nearly $65 million in unclaimed money to Mississippians. For more information, visit Treasury.MS.gov.