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Preparations for the Afterlife

So how do people prepare for the time when they are dead? How well prepared are you? You could say that some people tend to be better prepared than others.
People like Steve Jobs had cancer and battled it. Some forms of cancer like what Jobs had or what Christopher Hitchens had are incurable or on the borderline between curable and incurable.
If you happen to get one of these ailments, of course you know that your time on Earth will soon be up. Not that anyone is ever immortal. So far.
So I don’t know if it really matters much if we happen to get a form of cancer or inoperable brain tumor or glioblastoma like Ted Kennedy.
And what does one do about one’s vast wealth after one’s body becomes one with nature?
Well, luckily or unluckily, most of us in India don’t have to worry about such matters as not many of us are billionaires with our personal 30-storey buildings.
But here are a few examples of some famous folks and their instructions about stuff to be done when they died.

You can read the Last Will and Testaments of celebrities such as Jackie Kennedy and Elvis Presley. They make for interesting reading in terms of how they chose to distribute their wealth to their parents, children, spouses, and/or other distant relations.
And do you think the famous people who died unexpectedly and young left Wills too? Sure they did. Marilyn Monroe’s will is available online and makes interesting reading – one noteworthy aspect from an Indian perspective is that she died at 36 without any children. She had been thrice married but was single at the time of her death.
Princess Diana, who died at the age of 36 left her Will, available online, according to which, she left most of her wealth to both of her sons.
JFK Jr. died at the age of 38 and left a Will as well. His wife died along with him of course in the private plane crash that killed both.
Heath Ledger died in 2008 at the age of 28 and yet he left a Will too. And yes, it’s available online as well.
The great Roman poet Virgil wanted his poem Aeneid to be burnt as he considered it to be unfinished. Luckily, his friends managed to persuade him to change his mind before his death.
William Shakespeare’s last wish was that his wife receive his “second best bed.” Charles Dickens, the great novelist, wanted to have an inexpensive and simple funeral. His requests were ignored. George Bernard Shaw, another great novelist, wanted no religious service and basically showed his approval and support for “Darwin’s millenial saga of creation” over the Bible’s “six day synopsis.”
Benjamin Franklin, the great inventor and diplomat wished that in a democracy, his daughter should not engage in “the expensive, vain, and useless pastime of wearing jewels.”
Thomas Jefferson, one of the Founding Fathers of the United States, the principal author of the Declaration of Independence, and the third President of the U.S., wrote his own epitaph, which reads:
John Kelly, father of Princess Grace of Monaco – otherwise known as Grace Kelly, the Hollywood actress – wished that the clothing bills of his daughter may not bankrupt the principality of Monaco.
Harry Houdini wanted his wife to hold an annual séance so that Houdini could reveal himself to her. Houdini realized in his life that that the whole thing of communicating with the dead was bunkum. Therefore, he just wanted to prove after his death that he was not really ever going to turn up for his wife’s séances.
Napoleon Bonaparte’s last wish was that his head should be shaved and the hair divided up amongst his friends. Interestingly enough, recent analysis of his preserved hair shows that to have excessive amounts of arsenic leading to a conclusion that Napoleon might have died from arsenic poisoning.
John Bowman’s last wish was that dinner be prepared every night after his death in case he came back to life. Yeah. He didn’t want to go hungry in his own 21-room mansion in case he happened to return from the dead.
And T. M. Zink, a lawyer from Iowa, left $50,000 in trust for the creation of a womanless library.
Lastly, if you wish to read Hitchens’ thoughts on Mortality, well, luckily for us, he wrote his thoughts till the very end and it is now published in book form – called, appropriately enough, Mortality.

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