If you’re like about 50% of the American population your answer will be no. It’s even worse when you look at the number of people who haven’t looked at their will in five years.
We all know we should have a will, and at the same time very few of us have one. Even fewer have told our loved ones what’s in our will. What’s up with that? Do you really want to keep your wishes a secret from those you value enough to put in your will?
Let’s face it we’re all going to die.
I came face to face with this in the fall of 2008. I had been diagnosed with cancer and was in the middle of my cancer treatments. I was about to go into a stem cell transplant and learned that it’s a pretty dangerous procedure.
I learned that it was OK if I died. I came to terms that I’m not immortal and I need to start thinking about what happens if I’m not around. Would my wife Suzanne be OK? What kind of memories would I have placed in others? Would what I’ve learned mean anything.
For me, I started writing. I wrote every day. You can see what I wrote about, it’s still at CaringBridge. If you’re interested click here.
Isn’t it just fair to let those we love to have a look at your wishes?
A will allows you to spell out what you want to have happen with your stuff. It allows you the opportunity to say in writing what you think is important.
If you’re really brave you can share your will when you write it. You can bring those who are going to benefit from your will into the process of deciding what’s going to happen with your stuff. A will allows you to revisit what’s important to you and your family. This might be one of the most important conversations you’ll ever have.
There are other decisions besides what happens to your stuff.
How do you want to die? That’s a big question. For me, I don’t want any pain and I don’t want life prolonged. If I’m not going to have a high quality of life, I’m not sure I want to continue.
Your decision might be very different from mine. It’s your decision and you need to not only communicate it but also put the proper legal work in place. Oh, and it’s not very expensive. You can get a will, a health care proxy and a durable power of attorney put together for very little money. It might be money that helps your family have an easier time if you die before your time.
Life changes and you need to change your will when times change.
Writing a will is not a one and done proposition. Your life is going to change. When your life changes you need to update your will. You need to communicate with those who are in your will and let them know what your thinking is.
I’ve been lucky. My father has set a great example. He not only put together his affairs years ago, he has been talking with us about it ever since he put the first document in place. Occasionally life changes for him and he’s made changes in his will. We know what he wants and why he wants it. It’s the why of making changes that’s the important part of me.
You have lots to teach and a will is a great way to do so.
If you’ve been lucky enough to live a long life you have a lot to teach. The problem is that many people don’t believe they have much to teach. That’s just not true. You can teach those who you love what’s important to you. You can teach them why it’s important. Having a will allows you to teach as you draft, as you change, and when you die.
I know you don’t really want to talk about dying. I don’t blame you. It’s a pretty hard thing to think about, much less talk about. At the same time, what’s the alternative? Do you really want your loved ones to try to figure out what you wanted? Do you want the courts to make decisions for you that you would have rather made yourself? Do yourself a favor, get a will and bring your loved ones into the conversation.
Part of the estate planning process is drafting a will. We have a special report on basic estate planning we would like you to have. This report will help you understand the basics. Once you read this report, you might want to have a conversation with us. If that’s true, give us a call and we would love to talk with you about what possibilities establishing a will can bring. To get the report, just click on the button below.