When There’s a Will…

by Ilinap on February 8, 2011

Forget the whole shebang about seeing a man about a horse. You need to saddle up and go see a woman about a will.

Do you have a will? You know, that legal document that bequeaths all your assets when you die. That thing you should have done, signed, copied, and put in the safe deposit box nine years ago. No will yet? Really? So much for the whole sound mind bit.

Let me drag out my soapbox for a moment. Pardon me while I slip off these heels so I can climb up.

I do have a will. But I was a mother for five years before I got one. Mac Daddy and I came from the financial services industry where we saw firsthand cases of people dying intestate. Intestwhat, you ask. Intestate. It means dying without a valid, legal will. You don’t want to be in that position. Rather, you don’t want your loved ones in that position.

Wills are not just for the uber rich who have heirs instead of simple loved ones, as the regular folk call em. Wills are not fun. Nothing about dying is. Denial’s a bitch too. That’s not the point. You create a will for your children and loved ones, not for yourself. It is a magnanimous gesture of kindness and responsibility. To shirk your duties is, frankly, irresponsible and selfish. Everything happens when you least expect it. Life never goes according to plan so plan for the surprises.

The whole adage about death and taxes is true. I’d say one is more unpleasant than the other. I mean, if I’m around to pay my share in taxes, that means I’m alive and kicking. I’ll take it. Nonetheless, we are all going to die. It’s an uncomfortable fact of life. We are but mortal. We don’t of course know when we will die. Therefore, plan for it sooner rather than later.

Get thee a will.

I just so happen to know someone in Raleigh, NC who is passionate about this topic, my legal eagle Shelley Blake. She created our wills, and made the whole process so easy and comfortable. Shelley is a mom of two so she could relate firsthand to our trepidation and quelled our nerves like a pro. I think she must have gotten a Psych minor along with that law degree.

Shelley has lofty goals; she wants to ensure that no parent dies intestate. She can tell you what a nightmare it is. You don’t want to tread into this territory. Trust me. Mac Daddy and I saw families pulled apart when tragedy struck. Children were left without guardians, which is reason enough to run, not walk, to a lawyer today to get a will. Wives were left without a home or a dime. Husbands were left with no plan, no assets, and family fighting. And in many cases, divorced couples never changed their wills or life insurance beneficiaries so when they remarried and then passed away, all their assets and insurance proceeds went to the ex! Damn, think how much that would suck.

Shelley has been on my Race for the Cure team for years. This year we are tackling the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer as part of team Stop the War in My Rack. We’ll be walking 39 miles over two days to help support research and treatment, with a focus on caring for the uninsured and underinsured. For every Will Questionnaire and payment that is received between now and March 1, 2011, $50.00 of that payment will be donated to the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer. You can also donate directly to Shelley just for being such a smart, generous soul.

So if you’re in North Carolina (because that’s where Shelley has passed the bar), here are the deets:

Shelley R. Blake

Blake Law Firm, PLLC

3201 Edwards Mill Road

Suite 141-122

Raleigh, North Carolina 27612

Telephone: 919.792.0115

Email: sblake@blakelawoffice.com

In Shelley’s own words: “It is really very important for everyone to have a will.  Years ago my law partner’s sister passed away suddenly without a Will.  It was a logistical nightmare.  After that we lowered our fees for wills and pledged to try to get everyone we knew to at least understand how important it was to have a will.  I know that it is not something that people like to think about, but I do want you to understand some of the reasons it is important to have a Will – whether you have, or do not have, minor children.

If you die without a will:

  • Your belongings will go through Intestate Succession.  All of your possessions are divided according to State Law, as opposed to your wishes.
  • If you are married with no children, your estate will be split between your spouse and your parents!
  • If you have minor children, a court will decide who will raise your children. As you can imagine, this can lead to a lot of family discord.  Also, the majority of your estate will be held by the Court until the minor children reach 18.  This means that whoever is raising your children will not be able to use your money to raise them, and your 18 year old child will get whatever estate you had – with no one monitoring their spending.

If you prepare a will, you can name a guardian for your children and a trustee to manage your estate for them. You can designate the guardian to serve as the trustee as well, or you can name someone completely different as the trustee.  If you do not have children you can dictate that everything goes to your spouse, or distribute it however you wish.”

I can’t stress how important it is to have a will. It might be one of the most valuable things you do as a parent. You schedule hair appointments, dental cleanings, and swim lessons. You spend money on god-knows-what-at-Target. You feed your kids organic milk and strap them into car seats. You wipe their noses and soothe their aches. You read to your kids and laugh when they sculpt Playdoh into a cupcake for your birthday. You cry at the joy and gratitude and fulfillment your family gives you in moments when you least expect it. You owe your family more. You need to get a will.

There’s no better time than NOW. Support our walk. Secure your family’s future. Then take a breath, cross that off your list, and go get some hot chocolate when you pick the kids up from school. With extra whipped cream.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Erin Lane February 8, 2011 at 11:34 AM

Good point! It’s been on our “to do” list for quite awhile. We need to GET ON IT.

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San Diego Momma February 10, 2011 at 2:35 PM

I don’t have a will! Either does my husband! And we have two kids!

{{hyperventilating, hyperventilating}}

Plus, there is NO excuse for it.

My friend died (she was 94) without a will and it was a mess that I was caught in the middle of because I was the only able-bodied person that lived within 1,000 miles of her…

Most of her estate clean-up came to me, even though I was not legally bound to do so…it was such a pain for everyone involved.

Thanks for this reminder.

Reply

Margaret Suttle February 27, 2011 at 4:05 PM

Good post and so, so important. My soapbox is having a Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare. A Living Will is not sufficient. My husband died about three weeks ago due to complications from Parkinson’s Disease. We were forced to make some hard decisions about his care. Fortunately, he had made his exact wishes known and he knew I would honor his wishes. No one wants to plan for dying, but we must. That’s one of the greatest gifts we can give our children.

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