After years (decades) of pestering from my Dad and Stepmom, I’ve finally bitten the bullet and gone to a lawyer to create my official will. As if the idea was not disturbing enough, the ensuing conversation was worse. Somehow, I ended up finding the will power to grant will power.
If we have to
Occasionally, more so in recent years, my Dad has wanted to talk to me about wills. Mostly about his and my responsibilities in it, but also about mine and whether I actually had one.
Not so much mine, but talking to him about his was quite uncomfortable. I mean, isn’t Dad going to live forever? So, in that case, I don’t have to think about wills and, you know, what that means.
Still, I had printed off this sheet from the internet and scribbled some ideas on it and signed it. My will is done.
Dad didn’t think so. I didn’t really, either. I knew the day would come when I’d have to summon up some will power of my own.
Will power is not the same as will power
But, I procrastinated. It wasn’t that I was afraid of contemplating my own death. Nah, I had that planned out in my head long ago. Pretty simple: I’d go crispy, leave stuff to relatives and find out if there was anything to find out after that.
But, I always knew I would need a real lawyer to make a real will. Someday.
Not that simple after all
When the day finally came, it was predictably eye-opening.
All the details of a will and the ancillary documentation are immense and involved. Even for a simple set up as I envisioned, there are pathways to be considered.
What about taxes? How to avoid probate? Do you dispense everything at once or over time? What about soft assets (like my book rights)?
Granting the will power
And then, there are the horrible, critical questions that need answering.
Who will be your trustee? If you become incapacitated, who has power of attorney? Who will act as executor?
And, the most troubling of all: Who becomes your health surrogate? In crude terms, who gets the “honor” of pulling the plug?
Finding the will power
All of those roles seemed to be a big ask. The last seemed to be an impossible one.
How could I dump that burden on anyone, family or friend? What a terrible thing to ask someone to do.
But, it needed to be done and I needed to find the will power to grant will power.
There almost was such a thing as a free lunch
Well, first, my Dad came to mind. Level headed, considerate and has a vested interest in everyone involved. Granted, he’s coming up on 90, but he’s still of clear mind and focus.
Next, a good buddy of mine. He had previously asked me to be trustee in his and his wife’s will, so I thought returning the favor wouldn’t be that big an ask. The health surrogate part scared me, though.
I took him to lunch, gave him the spiel and he agreed on all counts. Whew. I was so relieved, I drove him home and collapsed in my chair for a few minutes before realizing I had not paid the check.
Wow. Never before in my life. Never asked someone to pull the plug on me before, either, so I guess I was the one not of sound mind for a bit. I took care of it over the phone, but, gosh, that was both terrible and terribly embarrassing.
Finding the will power to grant will power
So, with two names in hand, I emailed my new lawyer (who happens to be my Dad’s current lawyer) and asked her if there was anything else I needed to provide.
Just money, of course, and then she could get started. Soon, all sorts of documents will be created awaiting signature and witnessing. At the end of all of that, I should be good for a while.
It was tough finding the will power to grant will power. It’s an uncomfortable position to be in – to have to ask others to do things for you that you will be unable to do for yourself.
I don’t relish having the conversation again, though I expect it will be necessary at least a couple of times more in the future.
It’s not my death that gives me the willies, it’s the dying and what that demands of friends and family that makes me a bit of a coward.
Nevertheless, I’ve now done it once, so I expect I can find the will power to grant will power again, as life events require it of me.