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One Of Life’s Greatest Regret – Failing To Plan For One’s Estate
Malaysia Perspective | 27 July 2011

By Lee Khee Chuan

Have you ever regretted anything in life?”
– A terminally ill patients asks Dr Shuichi

It is now confirmed that failing to handle and plan for one’s estate is one of the greatest life’s regrets as revealed in a recent book written by a palliative doctor in Japan, Dr. Otsu Shuichi.

As a palliative doctor, Dr. Shuichi helps to reduce the severity of disease symptoms suffered by terminally ill patients. So far he had accompanied more than a thousand patients in their last part of life’s journey.

As his patients confided with him about their sufferings, very often the patients mentioned about their life’s regrets at their hospital beds.

What People Regret at the Last Moments of Their Lives

In his book, Dr. Shuichi shares with us what he has learned and had compiled a list of 25 most common regrets his terminally ill patients had revealed to him.

Interestingly, one of the regrets expressed by the patients is failing to handle one’s estate in a proper manner. Though the sample may be from Japanese terminally ill patients, the results of this informal survey can be generalized to include the general population elsewhere, since most people work hard their entire life to acquire assets and wealth.

To me, the main reason for regretting the failure to plan for one’s estate before one leaves this physical world is that the issue of handling down the estate involves the life and well-being of the loved ones to be left behind.

Thus, the extent of one’s planning his or her estate will affect the welfare and quality of future life of the dependants. Putting it the other way, the lack of planning will exacerbate the financial suffering of the dependents.

Since it is acknowledged that planning for one’s own estate is one of the important areas in life’s personal planning, why is that so many people (based on the book’s published results) regretted in their failure to plan? Personally, I think it is because many people are likely to delay planning that are important but not urgent, until it is too late!

Other Life’s Greatest Regrets

It is equally interesting to learn about the other life’s regrets listed in Dr. Shuichi’s book. There are regrets that are health related. They include: did not pay serious attention to one’s own health; did not quit smoking; did not comprehend the meaning of treatment; etc.

Some of the other life’s regrets are socially or personally related: did not plan for one’s own funeral; did not manage to go back to visit one’s hometown or birthplace; did not acquire a hobby; did not travel to the places where one wanted to visit; did not get married; did not have a child; and did not leave his or her mark in this world when one leaves this physical world.

There are also life’s regrets that are psychologically related: did not fulfill one’s own dream; did not do what one set out to do; has committed sins; regretted that his or her life has been dominated by negative emotions; did not care for loved ones; and regretted that he or she is too stubborn and did not listen to others.

Lee Khee Chuan, is a qualified financial advisor. He holds a B.A. from National University of Singapore and is a Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC), Certified Financial Planner™ (CFP™) and Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU).

He is a pioneer who introduced the INTEGRATED approach to estate planning. His article entitled “An Integrated Approach to Estate Planning” was published by Financial Planning Association of Malaysia (FPAM) in its quarterly journal in Oct. 2009. He writes for several leading magazines and journals in Malaysia. For more information, please visit:


This article is designed to provide competent and reliable information regarding the subject matter covered. Notwithstanding that the author and publisher have used their best endeavors to ensure that the information is correct at the time of publication, the article is published on the understanding that neither the author nor the publisher shall assume any liability resulting from any decision made or action taken on the basis of such information, nor for any error or omission. If legal, financial or other expert assistance is required, the services of a relevant professional must be sought.


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