Jenni Burgum



How wealthy a corpse do you want to be?

Few of us want to think of ourselves as corpses. After all, we spend a great deal of time, effort and money on keeping ourselves alive and in good condition!

The fact of the matter, though, is that, no matter how well we look after ourselves (and we should), none of us can avoid being a corpse one day.

So, if being a corpse is unavoidable, how about our looking at what kind of a corpse we want to be. On a scale of one to 10, how wealthy a corpse do you want to be? Do we want die with all your money, gifts and qualities intact or would you like to have shared much of it with the world?

When we speak of wealth, we have to take into account that this does not only refer to financial wealth. Speaking of that, however, let’s focus on it. Every responsible person should plan for two eventualities – financing their families if they die too soon and financing their own lifestyle if they live too long.

It’s advisable to take out life cover for your dependants in the case of your premature death. But what if you live a lot longer? You then need enough money to ensure that you are able to support your lifestyle in an appropriate manner. The last thing you want to do is outlive your money. It’s far better for your money to outlive you!

But what if you’re fortunate enough to have enough money to fund yourself for the next 100 years? The question then becomes: how much money is enough? While one can never tell anyone what they should do with their money, one wonders how much comfort it can give anyone to go to the grave clutching a billion of whatever currency they choose to have.

About 10 years ago, Bill Gates shocked the world when he said he was leaving Microsoft, and committed, with Warren Buffet, to giving away half of his wealth to charitable causes during the course of his life. He announced his intention to work for his and his wife’s Foundation to make the world a better place.

All the cynics were quick to smirk that it would be easy for him to continue to eke out an existence on $30 billion (his wealth at that time was probably about $60 billion), but most missed the point – while many wealthy people are extremely charitable, there are also just as many wealthy people who never give any of their money away, no matter how much they have. As far as they’re concerned, they’ll never have enough. And those are the ones who will be extremely wealthy corpses.

But it’s not only their money that they take with them. They also take so many other gifts that they could have shared with the world while they were here.

You might not consider yourself to be in the super wealthy category that you have to start giving half your wealth away, but look at this from a different angle … If we considered your unique gifts, skills and qualities to be your wealth, how wealthy do you want to be when you die? How much of your gifts do you want to have given away or have taken with you?

Let’s face it, once you’ve passed on, your gifts and skills are of absolutely no value to you and the world any longer. So why not share them with those around you while you can? Whatever you’ve got to share, share it!

If you have time, share it. If you have compassion, love, skills, talent, share them. It’s not about sharing what you don’t have, but sharing what you have.

The beauty of it is that, as you give away of your wealth of gifts and talents, you make the world a better place, whether it be for one person, 10 people, 100, 1 000 or one million people.

As more of us realise that we’ve been given gifts to give away, we find fulfilment as we do what we’re meant to do.

Don’t plan to take it all with you. Give away what you can while you can. There’s no fun in being a wealthy corpse!

Alan Hosking is the publisher of HR Future magazine,, @HRFuturemag, and a professional speaker. He assists executives to prevent, reverse and delay ageing, and achieve self-mastery so that they can live and lead with greatness.

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