"When do we die, Mommy?" "Why did Johnny Cash die?" Those are the questions posed by Darling 1 last night as he was going to bed clad in his firefighter t-shirt and clutching his fireman helmet, just in case he got called out to fight a fire during the night. The Johnny Cash issue is another story and beside the point, but the answer to the first question is that no one knows when the last day, the last moment will be. As a parent, I find that sad when I think about my parents' mortality and that of my own. However, the best way to prepare for this absolute occurrence with date yet to be determined is to get your ducks in a row, your affairs in order, your rear in gear – draft your will!
In my opinion, the most difficult part of drafting a will is getting started. Here are a few ideas to motivate you to take care of business:
The do-it-yourself group: Get together with other couple friends who want to draft their wills too. You could decide to meet several times to discuss the process, decide what preformatted will program you would like to use, even invite an attorney or estate planner to come and speak to your group to give some pointers on things to consider, etc. Set a deadline for when you will all have your wills drafted. Then, get together for the "signing party" and take turns being witnesses for one another (with each couple and their witnesses signing in a separate room from the rest of the group), arrange to have a notary there if necessary, per your state's requirements. Then, go out to dinner as a group to celebrate your accomplishments.
The hire-an-attorney group: Again, get together with a group of couples that also wants to draft their wills. There's nothing like peer pressure to get something done! Each couple could seek out an attorney that would be willing to cut you a group rate for drafting and executing the will for each member of the group. Then, let the group pick which attorney to hire. You could ask the attorney to meet with the group to give pointers to help everyone get started in making the necessary decisions. Then, set times for the attorney to meet privately with each couple to discuss their wishes, assets, etc. The attorney would then draft a will and any accompanying documents desired, such as trusts, power of attorneys, etc. for each person. Finally, the attorney would facilitate the signing of all the wills on one day. Of course, the actual witnessing and signing would be done privately away from the group. Not all attorneys will agree to this, but it's worth a try. You save money and get the benefit of having an attorney draft your will, and the attorney still makes money. It's a win-win situation – I think.
These are just a few ideas that a friend of mine who is a solo practitioner suggested when we were discussing how to help people take the first steps to accomplish this seemingly daunting task. Every mommy and daddy can use any excuse to get out and socialize with friends. Why not make the most of your time and achieve two goals: drafting your will and spending time with friends as a couple.
This week's Web site is www.safemoneystrategies.net. The company is K Plan Retirement Advisors Corporation. This is my dad's business. You can call me biased, but there is good estate planning information on this Web site. My dad, Jerry Stinson, is not an estate planner. He is a financial advisor and helps people to plan for their future and invest their money wisely. However, since estate planning is in the same vein as planning for the future his Web site does provide information regarding estate planning. This tiny url will take you directly to the estate planning portion of the Web site: http://tinyurl.com/yjqd2a4. I think that the information provided gives you a good place to start thinking about drafting your will.
On Friday, I will post Motherly Advice. Next Monday's post is on children's bike helmets. Over and out.