Fear Conquering & Writing A Will

Fear Conquering

If you are an avid reader of our blog, you are most probably aware that in the union of David and I, I am the less fearless. David has always been the adventurer – I am the homebody, the helicopter mom, the worrier.

Selling the nest and heading out into the big, wide world, for me, was stepping outside the box. WAY out of the box. There were scores of box-escaping baby steps I needed to undertake before I could become a bona fide GypsyNester.

My biggest concern was to have our affairs in order, in the event of my certain demise. It was essential for me to be certain that the kids are not burdened if I go down in a hang gliding / bungee jumping / snowboarding / street food eating blaze of glory.

The Spawn will have enough on their plates explaining to their friends how Mommy was gored by a long-horned steer in rodeo clown school. They don’t need estate probate problems to boot.

So David and I hauled our butts to an estate lawyer. It was probably the most inappropriate client meeting ever for this modest, very serious lawyer. J. Biffington Goodmannerlyness, Esq. has a somber job and he is very good at it. J. Biff’s gig is like the prequel to the funeral home director – weighty, uncomfortable subjects are handled in a most serious and solemn way.

Enter the GypsyNesters.

I’m not going to lie, talking about my death – and what happens afterward – is not my favorite topic. When David and I are uncomfortable with ANYTHING, humor is always our first line of defense. Right off the bat, we started in with the tasteless death, taxes and lawyer gags. Bless his heart, poor J. Biff never knew what hit him. To his credit, he held fast to a calm demeanor and strained smile.

J. Biff did his best to keep us fairly focused on the task at hand and in the end was successful. We discovered having J. Biff’s knowledge and experience in person garnered huge advantages over the do-it-yourself-type route. We could ask stupid questions, had a mediator for the inevitable “heavy discussions” and a sounding board for the intricacies of our family dynamic.

First up, assets

Prior to our meeting, we were unaware how blissfully vague a person can be when distributing one’s possessions. We were under the impression that each item had to be separately bequeathed to an heir. Not so.

By forming a Revocable Living Trust we were able to avoid almost all of the end of life legal hurdles. Almost any holding – securities, bank accounts, real estate and even personal items like vehicles or jewelry, may be included. As long as an asset is held in the trust, it is exempt from probate hassles.

When one of us kicks the bucket, the trust continues unchanged. If we croak at the same time, the trust is split three ways between The Spawn. We added a stipulation for The Boy’s remaining college tuition and a stipend for our oldest daughter, The Piglet, for her duties as trustee/executor.

The sixteen boxes we have in storage were are properly marked “For The Boy on his 21st birthday”, “Grandma’s china for Decibel”, etc. The few unmarked knickknacks, pieces of art and photo albums are left for them to fight over. What’s a good funeral without a scuffle or two? It’ll keep their minds off of our death (am I the most considerate mother, or what?).

Next, Uhhhhh… the dreaded Living Will

Having gone through the “pull the plug” process twice in my family, once with a Living Will and once without – I am a HUGE proponent of the advance planning option. Making grave medical decisions under duress is not a burden I want to dump on my offspring.

By this time, J. Biff was catching on to us and allowing himself to crack a timid smile or two at our inelegant comments. David, when asked about life support, self-confidently said, “First time I poop my pants – pull the plug.” I’m more willing to give adult diapers a shot and J. Biff gently ran me through some end-of-life scenarios.

It was decided that middle-daughter, Decibel, be in charge of medical decisions. She is our toughest kid and would faithfully stick to the program. The Piglet would second-guess herself for the rest of her life and The Boy was too young for the weight of that kind of task. J. Biff suggested we put our Living Will in an online hospital database so Decibel wouldn’t have to jump through any more hoops than necessary. What a great invention! We enrolled with enthusiasm.

Two weeks later, J. Biff handed over a large notebook containing copies of all the necessary papers. Entitled “Estate Planning Portfolio” (aren’t WE the hoity-toity ones?), the binder also houses many other handy-dandy items such as:

–Lists of locations — so The Piglet can find the sixteen boxes, our safe deposit box, tax records and the like.

–Life insurance information

–Detailed instructions for incorporating banks accounts and insurance companies into our trust

–Forms for the donation of organs

Best among these is the “Directions for the Trustee”. This document is obviously lovingly put together and is in checklist form. #1 is “If you are alone, telephone a friend who can spend the next few hours with you. Shock and trauma can take unexpected forms.” How unlawyerly.

The remainder of the checklist will help The Piglet deal with caring for family members, funeral arrangements, important papers and all of the other matters she wants to avoid discussing with her living, breathing parents.

The most beneficial part of this process is knowing that The Piglet will have sweet, compassionate J. Biffington Goodmannerlyness at the ready.

He’ll know just how to act when she starts wisecracking away her grief.

Veronica, GypsyNester.com

Your Turn: Got any stories about writing a will? Let us know below!

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11 thoughts on “Fear Conquering & Writing A Will”

  1. This is a really good tip particularly to those new to the blogosphere. Short but very accurate info? Appreciate your sharing this one. A must read post!

  2. My parents left my sibs and me many gifts — one of the greatest was having set up the revokable trust eons ago along with annual family meetings for all of us to review the docs, the financials, re-hash the end of life wishes, etc. Even though I don’t have kids (other than the 1000s I taught), I set up my own trust many years ago and have revised a couple of times to keep it current. As I head off on my travels, including the upcoming Road Scholar hiking trip in Colorado, it’s nice to know that it goes cleanly to the sibs if I nose dive off the mountain. (My own J Biff is also understanding and unflappable.)

    1. It feels good to have it all taken care of, that’s for sure! Let us know how your Road Scholar trip goes – we’re going to South America with them in a few weeks! SO excited!

  3. What a great thing to do for your spawn! I had to do the end of life deciding for my father last year. It was brutal. Having said that, I’m a lawyer. Have I done our estate planning as comprehensively as you have? Of course not. (Lawyer, heal thyself.). We’re leaving for a 25 day trip, which had me thinking about what ifs….but, the truth is, we’re more likely to end up as road kill crossing the street in front of our house than crossing the Atlantic at 36,000 feet. Mid year resolution: Get the +#*(&@!# wills done!

  4. The Husband & I did the work last year and became the proud owners of our own “Estate Planning Portfolio” and let me tell you, it really put my mind at ease. Our situation is different in that we have no children, just siblings and a multitude of neices and nephews. We are both happier hitting the road knowing if we skid off a mountain, our siblings will have clear directions on how to handle not just our worldly possessions, but our comatose bodies!

  5. I know this was a fact a few years ago, not sure if it still is but I will share it anyway.

    If you don’t have a will, and say your hubby goes and you have kids say 3 like us. They automatically get 1/4 of his half. Its like this, you get half, & 1/4 of his half, with each kid getting 1/4 of his half…

    Something to think about…and I am bad but think I will pull out our do your own will disc print one have dh & I sign it and take it to the notary.


  6. Thanks for the reminder, Nesters! This is something I’ve been putting off and know I shouldn’t. I posted it to my FB page to remind others.

  7. said…

    Good morning from Australia!

    Once upon a time during a previous segment of my complicated life, I lived in the southern states of the USA. My mother had a lovely, courtly gentleman on retainer as her lawyer and I have to tell you that as I read your commentary about “J. Biffington Goodmannerlyness” — I could see that middle-aged man’s face and his gray suit.

    You may not have wanted to do the advance planning, but you have certainly done the right thing by the children.

    We have to do the same thing this coming year when we sell up here in Oz and go Global Nomad ourselves.



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