Sometimes, the unthinkable happens. Sometimes, tragedy strikes. Sometimes we find ourselves wishing we would have thought about “it.”
Writing a will, just in case, seems morose at best – and is gut wrenching to think about – but it can protect your loved ones – and who doesn’t want to do that?
My husband and I sat down to write our will earlier this year and it was a TOUGH day and a TOUGH week. Going through the questions caused me to get physically ill. The questions made my mind spin and put me in a terrible mental place – picturing all the things that could wrong.
What happens if my husband and I die together?
What happens if I die and my husband lives?
What happens if my husband is incapacitated?
On and on…
The questions were TERRIBLE – and the chances that any of it happens is slim—but I knew we couldn’t risk leaving the trajectory of our daughter’s lives in the hands of the court system. How is the court system (or our extended family) supposed to know what’s important to us if we don’t document it?
Before becoming a parent I used to associate the word “will” with “money” or “material possessions.” Now, I associate “will” with “stability” and “security.”
Here are some things to think about when making a will:
There are pros and cons to each. If you’re not in a position to hire a lawyer, think about who you know in your personal and professional circles – maybe there is an opportunity for a referral (with a discount), or maybe there’s a possibility of an in-kind trade – you never know
Here’s where the “stuff” and “material possessions” come into play. For us – it was less about distributing it and more about making sure we chose an executor we trusted to guide our girls until they were of a certain age.
Choose an executor
An executor is the person who makes sure the will is executed. Ideally, it’s someone who you trust who will be unbiased and carry out your wishes. We chose a family friend who we love. The executor does not have to be a family member.
This is HUGE. Who do you want to take care of your child or children? And if you want “Aunt Betty” to, does “Aunt Betty” also want that?
Things we considered before choosing a guardian were: temperament, age and stage of life, their relationship with our daughters, judgment, and joy.
Once my husband and I decided on someone, we approached the person as asked them whether caring for our girls forever more was something they were open to.
Always check in before assuming someone will take on such a grand honor/responsibility.
Stay calm and take your time
Like I said before, writing our will made for an emotionally tough day and week. The what ifs are endless. Try to take deep breaths and stay in a place of calm – you are making decisions for your family should the unthinkable happen.
No need to rush it. If you start making a will and become overwhelmed, set it down come back to it later.
Save and store your will
After making the will, you’ll want to store it for safe keeping. Leave a few copies at different places: your computer, a fire proof safe, a safety deposit box, a filing cabinet where other important paper work is filed and stored.
Remember to update your will
Change happens, that’s why you’re thinking about writing a will in the first place. As friendships and relationships evolve and devolve, check back in and review your will, “Do I still feel the same way?” “Is there someone who is better suited to care for my child” “Are there any changes I want to make?”
Thinking about making a will is the worst, but in the event of tragedy, it could make healing just the tiniest bit easier.