I wasn’t joking with the title. This is a depressing post and you might want to read this post instead.
It has been a rough couple of weeks. I attended 2 funerals in an 8 day span. Funerals are always tough, but these 2 were a lot easier on me than the funerals for my father, aunt, and grandparents. The saddest part of these recent funerals was seeing the effect on the close families. While observing the families, I have been thinking about how to make some important decisions easier for my own family.
I am certainly no expert, and am probably irresponsible for not having a will or any legal arrangements in place, but I have learned that it is important to let your wishes be known. Without instructions, your loved ones are left to try and guess what kind of arrangements you want. As the size of the family grows, the number and variety of guesses also grows. Even if you don’t go through the process of creating a legal document, it will be helpful to write down what you want. Leave some answers to important questions in a place where the document will be found. In my case, my wife, son, and daughter can use the document and know how to follow my wishes.
The following is a list of questions along with my answers. I know most of you don’t care about my answers, but the examples may help you consider your own answers.
What should be done with the body?
There are some discrete choices containing little grey area: embalmed/not and buried/cremated. As a science guy I know that no matter what is done to my body, I’ll be dust recycled back to the Earth before long anyway. Choose the cheapest cremation option. When you can, go to a nice, warm, beautiful beach and hang out for a few hours. Leave my ashes there. Don’t use your favorite beach if it will make you sad on future visits.
What kind of service do you want?
The answer should include location, who speaks, and what happens afterwards. I would like a memorial service at a church. Try to get an entertaining preacher I would enjoy. People are welcome to speak, but no pressure on anyone. I could never speak myself. Afterwards, go to a house, restaurant, or park. Enjoy some food and drink (preferably beer).
Don’t spend a dime on flowers for me.
The West End Center or any environmental charity.
Currently, I believe social media is enough. If my death isn’t dramatic, make up a good story that include a shark or hostage situation. Depending on my age at the time, try to use younger, thinner, tanner pictures of me. Don’t feel the need to spend money on a newspaper article.
What to do with my real estate?
I have always spent time and effort on my properties, and I have pride in them, but they are just houses. Hopefully, they have built lots of equity, and I want my family to benefit from that money. If a family member wants to live in one, give them a good deal, that is fair to everyone. If nobody wants them as a home, take your time, rent or sell them for as much money as possible.
My bank accounts?
My hobby of abusing bank offers has left me with lots of different accounts. A fear of mine is that there will be assets sitting in an account, or on a card, that no one ever locates. I need a plan for this problem. It is probably unwise to share details for accounts on a public blog to my audience of over 12 readers.
What to do with my stuff?
At age 43, most of my stuff is just stuff, and has low monetary value. Including the 2 cars, I have about 2 items that are worth more than a grand. It is hard to know which of my things will be wanted. The priority for emotional items goes toward my wife, son, and daughter. Be good to each other and divide it fairly. Some of the construction tools are more valuable than they appear. So find family that will use them, or do some research before selling them. Include my brothers’ and in-law’s families for any emotional type items like photographs, handmade, or old stuff.
I have lots of airline/hotel miles and points, and I have done work, and spent time accumulating them. Find a way to get into my accounts, and either use them for trips or convert them to cash. Many of the programs allow you to buy tickets for other people. Don’t tell the airline I am dead, and use the points to book trips in your name. Since miles/points go down in value, use them as soon as you can, and be careful with expiration dates. Go somewhere fun, or use them to save some money on required travel expenses. (More details to include in my real document, but not for the blog.)
End with a personal message.
It is best to end with a couple of mushy paragraphs. Mine would start with a paragraph for my wife attempting to describe how much I love her and how I enjoyed our life together. I would finish with a second paragraph about how proud I am of who my children have become. (I need to write these paragraphs, but they can stay out of the blog.)
Next post should be better. The big Roanoke College scholarship competition is coming up soon. JumpStart Jr.’s 18th is also soon, which means we can begin jumpstarting his finances.