A Cringe-Worthy (but Necessary) Meeting with a Wills and Trusts Attorney

the importance of setting up a will or trust

Earlier this week, we met with a wills and trusts attorney. Years ago we talked about getting a will set-up but ultimately decided against doing it because well, we didn’t have any kids. We thought, if something terrible happens we’re each others beneficiary so we should be set? Right?

With the little one on the way, having a will in place started to seem more and more important. We got a referral from a friend and set-up a meeting. We decided that if nothing else we need to figure out who will take little Junior (we just made up a nickname for the meeting so we didn’t have to keep calling the baby “it” or “baby”) in the event of a tragedy.

Some of you might have stopped ready by this point and I get it, I totally, completely know why. It’s because none of us want to think about this stuff. It is terrible to even have the subject come up much less PLAN FOR TERRIBLE STUFF HAPPENING. It’s way, WAY easier to deny that these issues even need to be addressed. I mean, unless you’re elderly we all want to hope and pray that we’ll never have to deal with this stuff and that we’ll all just live long healthy lives.

That IS the goal after all.

Even just writing this post makes me cringe a bit. Ugh. Must continue…

During the meeting with the attorney I swear I must’ve had a pained expression painted on my face. No one wants to hear: “When you die…”, “When your husband/wife dies…”, “If both of you die at the same time…”, “If you can’t make decisions for yourself anymore…”, “If Junior is the only one living…”. Ack. Terrible, terrible phrases.

Cringe-Worthy Meeting with a Wills and Trusts Attorney…

After the meeting, Aaron said the conversation didn’t bother him but it bothered me. I just don’t like even thinking about that stuff or those possibilities, and really it all just makes me sad.

As sad as it makes to consider any horribleness happening I do also know how vitally important it is to have my wishes known, to know what Aaron’s are, and to have a plan in place if we aren’t around to care for our little one. I know that if I weren’t around (or able) to make decisions I wouldn’t want the burden to be left on our family members to sort out in probate court. Having a will in place and a people designated to execute the plan you set in place is extremely important.

Really, it’s the responsible thing to do.

The wills and trusts attorney told us to put people in charge who we trust. People who know what we want so we don’t feel like we have to dictate every single little thing about how things should go. Of course, it is recommended to state the big things like if you have philosophical medical choices but other than that trust that the people you trust will carry out your wishes.

Something else I found out that I didn’t know about is that same-sex couples can (despite individual state laws) set-up documents so that they are given very similar rights to those that heterosexual married couples have.Things like, letting the partner make the medical decisions in the event of an emergency and excluding the parents. I thought that was interesting and relevant information to know and probably makes setting up a will that much more important for same-sex couples.

Another thing, something as seemingly simple as if you would like to be an organ and tissue donor (even if it is noted on your driver’s license) needs to be talked about because it can cause controversy in families.

So, while the conversation is cringe-worthy and while none of us really wants to “go there”. I would like to encourage you to at the very least talk to your loved ones about what you would like to happen the event that you pass unexpectedly or in the event that you can’t make decisions for yourself anymore.

No one wants to think about this stuff so it gets pushed under the rug for another day but it’s really important to think about. My advice, go there, have the conversation, set up the plan, and be done with it.

 

Do you have a will and/or trust in place? Did you go through an attorney or an online source? How do you get over the cringe factor of talking about this topic with your loved ones? Have you been in a situation where a person didn’t have a will and/or trust in place and you had to deal with the aftermath? I’d love to hear your experience.  

11 comments

11 thoughts on “A Cringe-Worthy (but Necessary) Meeting with a Wills and Trusts Attorney

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

  1. Linda

    Talking about that stuff doesn’t both me, bc it is just careful planning. We don’t know the future. I also have a binder filled with exactly where all accounts, insurance, and investments are, what important bills need to be paid on time, life insurance, LTC insurance…..everything anyone would need to know if I couldn’t tell them.

    Reply
  2. Sarah

    Smart move Anna!
    My husband and I did the same thing a couple years ago and had an additional conversation with our bank about life insurance. I felt really tacky durning the conversation, but they were very encouraging and said more people should have these conversations before they “need” to. So now I know exactly what to do and what to expect money-wise if I have to make all the decisions myself. Also, as another note, you’ll cringe though this conversation too, but a Power of Attorney is a great thing to have. It eliminates a lot of red tape should you need it, and also helps clear up family-muddiness. We got these after seeing an adult friend go through hell, leaving him incapable of making his own medical decisions but restricting his parents from knowing what was going on. A POA would have made everything a lot easier, leaving them with one less thing to deal with.
    Again, good for you and Congratulations!
    :)

    Reply
  3. Rob

    Thanks for sharing! I believe this can’t be said enough. We are all going to die, that’s a fact.

    Having had at least 3 family members die intestate, I can assure you that your family doesn’t need the headache of bureaucracy tacked on to the tragedy.

    As you mentioned, it is especially important for non-traditional families such as same-sex couples, second marriages, and step-children.

    If you love your family, do the planning now, get those documents done!

    Reply
  4. Adrienne

    Even though it is difficult (or at least time consuming) to discuss these matters, it is really an important issue even for those of us who are not married and don’t have children. Mostly because one of those terrible things that can happen may not be death, but rather incapacitation.

    My parents had an elderly neighbor who was a widower and lived alone. Unfortunately he had a stroke and had to be moved to a long-term care facility. This is something that could even happen in younger people as the result of an accident, such as a car wreck, or any number of other tragic events. Because he did not have a trust in place for his real estate and other accounts and properties, his house and other properties were seized by the county to pay the bills for his care. This man’s children did not automatically inherit his property when he later passed away because he required such expensive care before he passed and for such a long period of time. There were some other legal matters to consider in that particular situation, but that was the gist of what happened and it really could happen to anybody.

    I don’t mean to use a scare tactic, but I do mean to express the importance that everyone have their “affairs in order,” even if you are single. It is important not to wait and hope something doesn’t happen.

    Reply
  5. Catherine

    So glad you brought up this topic! A lot of people our age aren’t thinking about it, and no one’s there to tell you when the right time is to go draw up a will. Saving for retirement is another one that not everyone thinks about if say, you’re just out of college

    Reply
  6. Lynn

    I work in estate administration and regularly see the complex difficulties that arise with dying intestate. You are going to die, and you can’t take it with you. Having your affairs in order is a great gift to your loved ones, as it makes it easier for them to carry out your wishes when you are gone.

    Reply
  7. Bonnie

    Dear Anna,

    I heard about you through a friend in Denver – Zachary Bouck. I’m a Personal Family Lawyer, and yes I do estate planning and no I don’t make it cringe-worthy!

    I’m a mom too and bringing a daughter into this world totally brought my awareness into clear focus – that I need to know what would happen to her in ALL circumstances if something happened to us as parents. My guess is that this attorney (unless he/she is one of the rare ones) didn’t focus on short-term guardianship – this is a totally different question than putting a one-sentence guardianship provision in your will. Your will isn’t going to help in an emergency or establish the legal authority for a friend or neighbor to watch your kids for an hour or a few hours while your family is contacted and arrives. (Child protective services in the default short-term guardianship.)

    My passion in life is to help parents through this process so that they don’t leave feeling totally sad, scared, or depressed. It’s about WAY more than assets when you come through my office – we have a “priceless conversation” as the cornerstone of our planning so that we help you capture more than just your financial wealth but also your spiritual, human, and intellectual assets. What values, insights, stories, and experiences do you want to make sure your children know about you – at age 2, 5, 10, 18, 25, 45?? This is the best and most fun part of what I do for families.

    This is way too important work to leave to a website that frankly gives only false security, or to an attorney who does things the traditional way focusing only on family wealth, not telling you that the MOST IMPORTANT part of estate planning is not the actual documents but how your assets are titled, or what probate is at all and why you should actually avoid it.

    We have many client families who have left just delighted! That’s the best part of my job.

    My two cents,
    Bonnie (www.willsandwellness.com – estate planning for growing families)

    Reply
  8. Nikki

    And while you’re on the topic… life insurance. For now, my husband and I each have enough essentially for a funeral and to pay off a house. He owned a house (purchased in 2007… way underwater now) when we got married and I could never make payments on it by myself. If something were to happen, I would be screwed. If/when we have kids, we’ll have to reconsider our coverage. If you have any remaining doubts, or are looking for a guest blogger, look at: mom2hudsonandcooper.blogspot.com Her husband died suddenly in 2011 and they had luckily just signed up for insurance. I couldn’t find the specific post but it did spur me to have the, “Hey, I know we just got married so this is a little creepy but…” conversation.

    Reply
  9. Marianne

    Totally necessary convo. We finally got life insurance recently and now we really need to do the wills. Funny we did talk to Bonnie (who commented above) a while back but then put it on the back burner. Thanks for reminding me how important this is and that I need to reprioritize it.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.