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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Willful

I am gathering the paperwork the accountant needs for our taxes. This independent contractor stuff can get confusing so I handed it all over to an accountant this year and I'm glad I did. He advised me about deductions I wasn't even aware I could take. Gathering the paperwork is a bit of a hassle, but it could be so much worse. I am so glad I am organized when it comes to record keeping.

Speaking of being organized, I want to encourage everyone out there to tackle a very difficult subject for most people and that is your mortality. Specifically, you should tackle it in the form of a will. So many people believe they don't need a will because they don't have kids or they don't own a lot of property or have a lot of money. The truth is that in many states, if you die without a will, it can be a nightmare for your spouse and/or other family members.

Having a will changes everything - it makes your wishes known to the world so that the court can give your property or money to the people you would want to have it. You may only have $100 in a savings account, but that's $100 that you might want to give to your child, your nephew, or any number of other people. You probably own a car. What will you do with that? Do you have a laptop? What about that?

Once you start thinking about it, "property" takes on a whole new meaning. A lot of people think of property as acres of land or a huge house. In truth, it can be an antique desk or a pencil holder that your great-grandmother used in her medical practice. It can be your car or your dining room table. A will makes it very clear what you want done with your things and that can be comforting to know.

What's even more comforting to know is what will happen to your children in the event of your death. You assume that your spouse will care for them. What if your spouse dies with you or shortly after you? Do you really want your evil mother-in-law or psychotic aunt to raise your children? If not, you should make it very clear who you want to care for what are likely your most precious gifts in this world.

These are all things you should think about and plan for. Do not leave your family, be it your spouse or your children, with the burden of dealing with your things without a will. It will be a nightmare for them on top of the nightmare of your death. Be kind to future generations and get a will!

In addition to a will, you can have a living will drawn up and a medical power of attorney. These are all things you should discuss with the attorney you choose to draft your will, but essentially they have to do with decision making for your medical needs should you be incapacitated. It helps if your family doesn't have to make a guess as to what you would want under certain medical circumstances.

Wills do not have to be expensive, but they should be done by a lawyer. This is not a plug for my profession, but simply a statement that you want to make sure the document is done right. A lot is riding on it. You can find lawyers to do wills by doing a Google search for "Lawyer Referral Services" or you can go to the American Bar Association's site for lawyer referral: http://www.abanet.org/legalservices/lris/directory/

This is too important to put off. I am urging everyone to make an appointment with a lawyer and get a will. It is worth the money and the discomfort of contemplating your own death. In the end, the very end, it will bring a lot of comfort to your spouse, your children, your family.

3 comments:

Jaime said...

I am doing currently working on a will. Jim and I are deciding the fundamentals and then having it worked.

citizen of the world said...

I have a will, and a living will. I got that done when I had kids and have since revised it. I don't mind contemplating my own death, just the issue of what would happen to the kids if I died.

Juliet said...

Soooooo true! Everyone really should have these things.

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