When is the last time you took a look at you will? Your will. You have one don’t you? What’s that you say; you’re not Thurston Howell III? Well, it’s not about money (entirely.) Nor is about great “I gotchyas” from beyond the grave. (The image of Christina and Christopher Crawford being inexplicably iced out comes to mind.) Wills can of course be used to have one’s last say but that’s not the true intent. We have wills so as not to leave a mess behind. It is our final act of cleaning up after ourselves.
Of course wills are crucial in dispersing of scads of real estate, stocks and bonds. But they are also key in identifying who will clean up financial and legal logistics. Without a will anyone even slightly related to you, could be left with quite a mess. Wills are not for the wealthy; they are for the conscientious (and can be purchased on line for quite a reasonable sum.)
Wills when written usually are done when expecting the arrival of a child or upon remarriage. But it’s not an archive; it’s a document that needs regular tending. Consider it less of a social security card and more of a driver’s license or passport. Your last will and testament needs to be renewed. If more than five years passes before reviewing the document you might be in for some surprises. Imagine discovering that you had bequeathed your jewelry to someone with whom you’ve lost all contact? What if the executor you named has in fact pre-deceased you? What if the cat to whom you’ve left your millions now has a brother? Things change, life happens, and a will should as well.
Now that you’re convinced to a) write a will b) review a will on a regular basis; there’s one more step. Inform those mentioned in the document that they are in fact mentioned in the document. They needn’t know details (and in fact in some cases they shouldn’t. You wouldn’t want junior to necessarily live his life as if he is receiving an inheritance, would you?) they need only to know that they are mentioned. An executor who has not consented is not going to be much of an executor. This person(s) needs to know where the document is and what, if any (funeral) arrangements have been made.
Writing a will, making funeral arrangements, and discussing it, will not hasten your demise. If you believe (and I’ve known those who don’t) that our time on the planet does have an expiration date; planning for that time is just part of life. Nobody wants to believe that his or her stay on the planet was meaningless. We try, as we stumble along to make some sort of positive impact. Leaving behind bereaved people who must divine or recall your wishes and intentions is simply not a great legacy.