Friday, November 17, 2006

Where There's a Will, There's a Way

All the recent thoughts about death have prompted me to get off my ass and make a will. I've always paid lip-service to needing one, but I've never been motivated to actually put one together. Until today. This afternoon I downloaded Quicken's Willmaker Plus and spent the better part of three hours walking through interviews about who I want to take care of my stuff, what to do with it, and documenting how I want things to happen just before and right after I die.

This is a lot harder than I thought. I had almost no easily-accessible documentation of my accounts and assets. All that stuff is in my head, and it would be almost impossible for anyone in my family to find the details of my 401Ks, IRAs, bank accounts, investment accounts, stock options, mortgage information, insurance documents, etc. etc. It's amazing how easy it is to forget these things when you forward your online statements into an e-mail folder that you never open.

And then there's how I want my funeral to be conducted. One of the things that really upset me about Jesse's funeral was that the word "gay" was never uttered. Boy Scouts, Ford employees and high school friends were all specifically acknowledged. But his gay friends, even while making up at least 25% of the audience, sat in silence. I would hate that to happen at my funeral, regardless of who might squirm in their seat. Putting this information down on paper, and designating a trusted loved one to carry it out, is very empowering.

And don't forget the Health Care Directive. If Terri Sciavo taught us anything, it's to document who you want your caregiver to be, and how you want him/her to make life or death decisions for you. It's hard, because it cuts to the very root of our personal belief systems. And as I began working through the various scenarios and answering the questions posed, it was clear that my stance on mortality is quite different than that of my family's. I feel better having put it all on paper, and I look forward to talking with my sister about it. She's the one I've designated to make sure my nurses are hot, and to hit me in the head with a rock when I start to drool during reruns of Golden Girls. Poor thing.

Finally, details, details, details. Does someone know where you keep your personal papers? Do they know where you hide the key? Who knows the account number of that old 401K from ten years ago? Who should they contact when you die? Where is your address book? What's the password to that account? Who is your doctor? What are your health conditions? Business interests? Debts? Real Estate? Lord, it's overwhelming just to think about it, much less document it. Still, it needs to be done.

Now quit playing around. Go make a will. It'll be the best $40 you ever spent making life easier on your loved ones.


At 12:35 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

So is now the appropriate time to start putting dibs on your money?

At 11:47 PM, Anonymous Trevor in H(ell)ays said...

i'm with david here, I also think, as a gifted young mind that i am, you need someone designated to enter the home clear all porn before family is allowed to be let in. That's numero uno mister. But since this needs to be shallow....can i have your jawline? You have a donor sticker on your liscense right.

At 1:26 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Some serious stuff, i meant to do it for years, but advanced directions/will writing seems like an impossible task. It was nice of you to share that link though. How do you forward the will to the executor of the estate though?

At 6:16 AM, Blogger Michael Guy said...

All valid points. I just recently updated my will, estate planning and related mumbo/jumbo of who needs to be contacted in the event of my death. ANYONE who owns property needs a Will. (as you've just experienced; 'youth' is no guarantee; we all hang here by a thread, really) Otherwise one's estate goes to probate court and, in some instances, can be tied up for months and months as the court sorts through one's financial/property affairs. You did a wise thing.

And I have a wee bit of porn in a box labeled 'silver serving pieces.' So..someone is in for a rude awakening!

At 3:49 PM, Blogger Dave said...

Money- and jaw-grubbing commenters: I'm going to have to start seeing a LOT more sucking up from both of you to get a piece of ME.

Anon: Typically, you have the will notarized or witnessed (depends on the state in which you reside), and you give the executor (and others if applicable) a copy. If you don't want them to know the contents, you can seal it, or place it in a joint safety deposit box.

Michael: I only wish I had just a "wee" bit of unmentionables. In fact, I think I may need another shed.


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