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Do you have a will?

IMG_6929I know, I know. As a consumer and personal finance journalist, I should have had my will prepared a long time ago.

I’ve had a handwritten will for years that was witnessed by two friends. It’s not sufficient, but it was something.

People need to have a will because if they don’t, their assets, if any, will be distributed according to the state laws where they live. Property will generally pass to next of kin or the state if no relatives can be found.

Without a will, probate – the process of distributing your assets after your die – can be a longer and more complex for your loved ones. In addition, some of your assets could go to relatives, such as siblings, when you’d rather they’d go to your immediate family.

For me, it’s been difficult to think about dying especially after losing so many of my best friends.

In addition, my parents never talked about dying even when they were very ill at the end of their lives.

The first article I won a journalism prize for was about funeral costs. (See article above.) I showed it to my dad. He was proud of me, but he said “I know a guy who arranged his funeral and he died the next day.”

That was a clear message. However, when my dad was very ill with non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, we went to a funeral home and arranged his funeral.

My mom had a heart attack and was in a nursing home for eight years. She never talked about dying and one day, after she began to have a lot of difficulty swallowing, her doctor took her off all her medications and she was gone.

Lately, my daughters have been pestering me about end-of-life details. They’re both runners and after running through a nearby cemetery, they said I needed to get over there and buy a plot. Mona even stopped by the office and brought me a brochure and a map of the cemetery. Hint, hint.

I had my yard work helper pick out my grave because I didn’t want to think about being dead and being buried there every time I drove by. The cemetery is on a main street that I use to go almost everywhere.

I reviewed my draft will Friday so I can deliver it to my attorney Monday for finalization.

My daughter’s coming next week from Spain for a visit. She’s going to go with me when I arrange my funeral. That was part of the deal. I wasn’t going to do it by myself.

We’ll also work on financial details.

So, get your will done. Your family will be happy you did.


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