My 44-year-old kid brother died July 28th. That's been tough, but it's more of a topic for The Grieving Room. Tonight's little problem concerns the fact that he died without leaving a will.
WYFP (which stands for "What's Your Fucking Problem?") is our community's Saturday evening gathering to talk about our problems, empathize with one another, and share advice, pootie pictures, favorite adult beverages, and anything else that we think might help. Everyone and all sorts of troubles are welcome. May we find peace and healing here. Won't you please share the joy of WYFP by recommending?
The kid brother's death was sudden and unexpected, but maybe it shouldn't have been. He had quintuple bypass surgery back in January. As I diaried at the time, we nearly lost him then. But he made it and was doing everything the doctors asked. We thought he'd won. He thought he'd won. Maybe that's why, even after the experience of January, he never bothered to write a will.
He was a single guy. No kids, no debts except the mortgage. Not rich, but he did a solid job of managing his finances. So, hey. Why write a will? If that's you, let me tell you why. Without a will naming an executor, it will be weeks before your family can do things like:- Access or forward your mail, or technically open it if they do have possession of it. - Talk to your bank or get access to your money to pay your bills (we didn't even tell the bank my brother was dead until we got the court stuff done, because his mortgage was coming out automatically and we didn't know if they'd freeze his account). - Talk to your creditors or other folks you have a business relationship with (privacy laws are pretty strict) - Cut off services like cell phone or cable/satellite (depending on the policy of the provider) - Make any arrangements for your property - And much, much more
Thankfully, we are a small family and not the type to quibble over the fine points of splitting things up. So not having a will wasn't an issue for us in that regard. But not all families are like that, and remember: it only takes one person to turn things into a nightmare.
The logistics of settling an estate are challenging enough during a time of tears. The frustration and delay caused by dealing with the lack of a will just add to the pain. My sister and I found ourselves several times in the heart-wrenching place of being angry at our much-beloved brother for putting us through this, while dealing at the same time with our fresh grief.
So, for the love of your family, make a will. In most states a simple will costs less than the extra month your family would end up paying on that cell phone, internet and cable bill they couldn't cut off. And while you're at it:- Who will make decisions if you're incapacitated? Put it down in a medical power of eternity. - Where is your money? Account numbers, institutions? Write it down. Add financial records, car titles, etc. - What are the passwords to things your family might want or need to access? Think of everything; keeping my brother's Flickr page open was important to us. Thankfully, I was able to crack it (did I just admit that?) along with his Facebook page. But his more critical passwords were much more secure. - What about your DKos or other online friends? Might they miss you? Do you want to arrange for them to be notified?
This list could go on forever, and will differ from person to person. But gather this stuff up. Put it in one place - somewhere secure - and make sure someone knows where it is and has access. You're not immortal (honestly, you're not). Freak things happen. So don't leave your family with a major FP...make a will.
That's my little rant for the evening. What's on your mind?
Updated with BREAKING! new FP: I was supposed to be there and checked into the hotel hours ago, but life intervened and this posting is being brought to you from the Exxon parking lot through the miracle of mobile broadband. As soon as I hit post I'm back on the road. I know drive-by posting is Not Done, but it seemed better than not posting at all when I agreed to do so. Be kind to each other, and I'll check in when I get there (probably shortly after 8 PM Eastern).
Update #2: She's baaaaaaaack