Friday, January 20

Where there's a Will...

At the turn of the New Year, I was hit with news of deaths… a dear friend, a distant relative, and the impending decline of a loved one from cancer. The trifecta of bad news was a harsh blow, and my angst-ridden blog that week reflected it.
 
“They” say what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. But those gut punches can certainly send you to your knees for a time. I daresay we’ve all experienced it.
 
But we somehow manage to pull ourselves back up to our feet, often with a lot of creaking and groaning, an assist from those we depend on for emotional support, and—in my case for sure—a lot of choice four-letter words. But rise, we do. A little worse for the wear but also a little stronger. Or maybe just a little numb to the pain? Either way, we carry on.
 
Which brings me to the point of today’s blog. It’s a public service announcement more than anything else, since I’ve recently and poignantly experienced what-not-to-do lessons where our own deaths are concerned: have a will.
 
Wow, those three little words don’t seem very impactful. It’s a bit of a Duh statement, isn’t it? But I’ll say it again: HAVE A WILL! Not just a legal document about what to do with the major things, but also include the little things. DO NOT assume those left living will abide by your not-legally-binding, spoken, conveyed in passing to a friend, or even jotted on a drink napkin wishes. They might. But unless you’ve legally bound the distribution of your stuff, they might not.
 
Even for those of us who think we have nothing of value to distribute… surely you have something, even if it is “only” of sentimental value to you. Writers, we have our business and our future royalties to take into consideration. Great Aunt Martha’s cheap costume jewelry. Pictures. Clothing. Dishes.
 
Do not leave it up the people you leave behind to decide how to disperse your estate, however small you think it might be. Firstly, those people are grieving for you. Do them a favor and don’t add to the emotional turmoil. Secondly, people can get ugly when there is money (or even “things”) involved… Haven’t we all seen, heard about, or experienced such a harsh twist of human nature? Thirdly, if you believe at all in some manner of the afterlife, how angry would you be if your (insert cherished item) ended up in the hands of that person?
 
Please please please. Have a will. Hire a lawyer to craft one. Go online and download a template. Get that bar napkin witnessed and notarized. Whatever it takes and in whatever format your state will accept. No one wants to contemplate their own demise or deal with the morose reality that life is fragile. We all want to believe we’ll live to see a grand old age and that accidents happen to other people. Personally, I don’t like to tempt Fate because I believe she can be an underhanded little tart when you throw down gauntlets.
 
Any thoughts or lessons-learned-the-hard-way on the matter?

6 comments:

  1. Great topic. You have me thinking about our wills, created years ago, mainly about caring for the kids. Dependents are the most important reason for a will, to name guardians, because imagine the strain of family members arguing over who will care for them. Distributing possessions is also important though. And In that same vein, am I the only one who gets motivated to declutter to make life easier for loved ones left behind? lol

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    1. I do a lot of "purging" as well, Cathy. Unfortunately someone is going to inherit the 6-inch pieces of wire my hubby refutes to throw away! :-)

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  2. It is not something we want to talk about but great advice. It's a good point about our legacy as writers. Intellectual property is not something we usually think about. As writers we may leave quite a bit of intellectual property behind.

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    1. Our intellectual property might be worth a lot some day...like the great artists :-)

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  3. My husband and I have wills, but I've really done nothing about my writing. What happens to royalties after I'm gone? What about my website? I guess I should do something, but I'm not really sure what. I know I don't want to leave a mess for my daughters to sort out. When my mother-in-law died, she had everything planned and had even pre-paid for her funeral. So we knew exactly what she wanted and it made the grief a little easier to bear.

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