Who Is To Pay A Pound Of Flesh At The End Of Your Life?

In The Merchant of Venice, Shakespeare makes his moneylender Shylock ask for a pound of flesh in repayment of for a loan of 3,000 ducats or gold coins. In the play, the lender repeatedly refuses repayments – even of twice the value of the borrowed money – and insists on receiving a pound of flesh from the heart of the borrower, Antonio. The play takes a different direction, and Shakespeare relies on 16th Century’s antisemitism to save the day and his hero from the deadly bond. Nevertheless, The Merchant of Venice is listed among Shakespeare’s greatest comedies by the critic Harold Bloom, and the saying “a pound of flesh” has now become a common way of referring to a harsh and spiteful demand. However, the play asks an important question that people have since then tried to provide an answer to, namely: How much is your life worth? Just like in the situation with Shylock, the value of your life can only be measured once it is over – remember that the pound of flesh is stipulated to come from Antonio’s heart. While death might at first appear like a taboo topic, it’s important to understand the primary message from the moneylender in The Merchant of Venice: Financial agreements, debts and invoices can and will continue to be valid in the event of your death unless you’ve taken precautions to prevent these from affecting your family. In other words, who is to give the infamous pound of flesh once your life is over?  

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The Merchant of Venice

Let’s get real: How much is a pound of flesh?

Nobody likes to think about it, but for the black market, a body is more valuable dead than alive – that is assuming that it is preserved in usable condition. In fact, according to http://ksfm.radio.com, when you die your body can be harvested for almost a million dollars, $810,381 without counting skin and blood. These, if they are not damaged, could be sold for almost $35,000. With one kidney going for $262,000 in the U.S. and a liver for $157,000, it’s easy to understand why the black market continues to attract sellers despite being completely illegal. If you have opted to donate your organs, they will be used to save people’s lives on a transplant list. However, every year, less than 15,000 organs are donated in the U.S., which isn’t enough to provide all the 113,000 patients waiting for a transplant. In short, however illegal it is, there is unfortunately still a market to sell a pound of flesh – or more – to those who need it. In other words, even though your body can save lives, it is legally and financially worthless after your death. However, it’s a different kettle of fish while you’re still alive. There are ways in which you could make money out of your body without risking any legal pursuit. Human hair, for example, can be sold for cash. However, as hair buyers are very demanding, it is often easier to sell your hair while you’re still alive as you can grow and cut it to match the buyers’ specifications. Similarly, cells such as plasma and platelets can be sold to medical researchers against vouchers, gift cards, or even utility bill payments – you will need to make sure to get in touch with the research lab first, as more often than not, they will require live cells. Participation in clinical trials or stool markets can also ensure a generous income, but this also relies on using the figurative pound of flesh during your lifetime.

Your family is without resource if not planned properly

Death is not only devastating for those who are left behind; it is also a major financial obstacle if it hasn’t been planned. While most people would rather not think about losing the ones they love, it remains essential to take care of your funeral while there is still time to consider options and organize your assets. According to http://www.aginginplace.org/your-complete-guide-to-burial-insurance/, most seniors hope to relieve their relatives of the financial responsibilities related to their end-of-life arrangement. Indeed, dying is not only sad, but it can also be very expensive. Consequently, it’s never too early to consider your financial options to ensure a dignified and stress-free departure for you and your family. The final expenses need to be taken care of to allow for survivors to mourn in peace and without worries. It can be extremely difficult in those tragic situations to overcome financial obstacles as well as emotional pain. Mourning relatives may not be in a situation where they can provide an emergency fund or a budget plan to cater for your funeral requirements. Indeed, it can be tricky for them to think clearly during those hard times and to avoid family debts.

The problem of inheritance

In December 2017, a couple of heterosexual Irish men made the news when they got married. When Matt Murphy, 83, got married to his carer Michael O’Sullivan, 58, in Dublin, the journalists became overwhelmed with shocked and amused surprise. As explained in The Guardian, a British newspaper, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/  Matt intended to leave his house to Michael as a way of paying for his carer services. However, upon discovering that the house was to come with €50,000 – about $60,260 – tax inheritance, Matt changed his mind and decided to propose to his friend and carer. While this might sound like a joke on the LGBT community, it is, in reality, the only way for these two friends to guarantee a fair inheritance between them. While in most cases, writing out a will might appear like the best way to plan the distribution of your assets and estate after your death, it is important to clarify your intentions and to keep a good understanding of the legal issues associated with the transfer of property and financial assets. For instance, while listing your assets, you might need to indicate which assets should be left to one of your heirs and which ones should be sold to increase the cash value of your estate, including bank, investment, personal property and valuable items. You might also need to consult a legal adviser to find the best possible strategy to reduce the inheritance tax for your heirs.

Do your debts disappear?

There’s an important question about your debts, and namely whether they disappear with you. More often than not, family members need to carry out your debt repayment and are left struggling with financial burdens that were never their responsibility in the first place. As your debt becomes the responsibility of your estate after you die, it is necessary to consider the best probate strategy – paying the bills and distributing what is left – in advance. https://www.nerdwallet.com/blog/ lists the specific kind of debts that can leave your family out of pocket if you’re not careful. A mortgage, for instance, will become the responsibility of the joint homeowner or the one who inherits the property. Credit card debts can also affect your relatives if there’s a joint account holder or if the debts occur during the marriage in a community property state. Finally, private student loans can become the responsibility of the co-signers in the event of your death.

What can a life insurance do?

When considering the burden that debts can be when they are passed with an inheritance process, you need to look for strategies to protect your beneficiaries. Getting a life insurance can help your family pay your debts, assuming that they will be responsible for these in the event of your death. According to Blair Aaronson, an insurance expert, life insurance is the ultimate lover letter. Why so? Because it enables children, grandchildren and spouses to continue the lifestyle they enjoyed before your death. While your debts don’t die with you, your income does and with it, the possibility for your relatives to sustain their lifestyle and protect their future. From attending college to keeping a debt-free existence, your life insurance can protect your family from the financial insecurity that comes after your departure.

Ultimately the best remedy is preventive thinking

You can’t cheat death. Nobody can. But you can certainly start thinking and planning to make it as smooth and easy as possible for your relatives and yourself. Keeping your finances in order is absolutely essential to protect your family. In other words, your yearly financial planning is as much for yourself as it is for your relatives. Make the most of the new year’s resolution to maximize retirement savings, reallocate your investments, plan for the long term, and develop a debt-free program. The healthier your financial assets are, the easier the distribution of your assets will be. Additionally, talking about health, it’s good to remember that planning to maintain a healthy worth at the end of your life doesn’t mean that you should ignore your physical health. A healthy lifestyle can do wonder when it comes to accumulating profitable assets throughout your life!

In conclusion, don’t leave your relative a pound of flesh to pay when you die. Instead, you should focus your attention on securing tangible financial assets for your family.

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