Writing a Last Will & Testament
A couple years ago my husband and I finally broke down and met with a financial planner. It was someone we had been meeting with for years (a friend, in all honesty) but it wasn’t until our son was born that we actually spent the money to work out a financial plan. During one of those meetings, he also suggested we meet with an attorney to put together a Will.
At the time, we were financially bought into the idea of a Will but as we started to discuss who would take care of our kids, “in the event”, well… that we couldn’t agree upon. If you’ve ever thought about who would care for your kids if you couldn’t, it’s not so easy. Choose a family member related to you or your husband and you start to wonder how involved the other family would be over time. Would there be jealousy? Would accommodations be made? What would happen during the holidays, vacations, etc…? What would happen if you choose a grandparent? How long could that grandparent really raise a child, two children in our case….again? If you choose a sibling, especially one with kids, what kind of impact would that have on their family dynamic? Choose a friend and you wonder the burden you’re putting on someone to not only raise your children but also provide opportunity for the biological grandparents, cousins, aunts, uncles, etc… to still be involved. Most importantly, who in your life will keep your memory alive in the way you would want with your children, always.
There’s also the big decision on who would take over financial responsibility for your children. Would it be the same as the guardian or someone different? “In the event”, we would want to make sure our kids are well provided for and their guardians don’t have to take on an added financial burden. Ultimately, we want to make sure that whoever is responsible for our children’s financial well being has the skill to make sure our kids are taken care of when they are young, in high school, college and then later in life (weddings, etc…). And most importantly, I certainly don’t want my children turning 18 and getting some lump sum. Documenting all of this is very important.
However, thinking about creating a Will and all these decisions just devastates me. So when it comes to actually meeting with an attorney, you can understand why three years after this recommendation we are still without a Will. But alas, I know there is a lot more to a Will than just who will take care of your children so I started looking into this again. One particular attorney (referred to me by another friend since I’ve long lost the recommendation our financial planner gave us), has basic packages starting with the following:
• Wills for you and your significant other
• Personalized letter sent to your Personal Representative informing them that you have chosen them to serve as the administrator of your estate
• Short-Term and Long-Term Guardianship Appointments for your children
• A personalized letter sent to the person you chose as the Guardian for your children in the event of your passing
• Health Care Proxy Form & delivery of this to your Primary Care Physician (PCP)
• HIPAA Release & delivery of this to your PCP
• Living Will
• Power of Attorney for you and your significant other
• Review of your Will every three years to ensure your plan is meeting your current needs and desires.
Upon reading this I’m even more overwhelmed by the decisions to be made and further overwhelmed by the sheer expense of putting all of this together. The question is, what is the bigger burden? The decisions and expenses or not having a plan in place for your children “in the event”? I’d be curious to hear what other parents have done (or not done) and why. I’m planning on at least learning more from this attorney and will share my journey here in the coming months.