Putting off the inevitable

Putting off the inevitable

By Mary Lou Brink

I am not one to procrastinate – at all. But there’s something about drawing up our final will and estate trust that makes me very uncomfortable and admittedly somewhat nervous. I know, I know … my husband and I are really behind the eight ball on this one, which is very unlike us. But to give us some credit, we’ve been thinking about doing it for years. Alas, the time has come to face our own mortality.

Mortality really isn’t the problem, though. I am not afraid to die – at least on the surface speaking about it in vague generalities of “some day I will die.” That’s not the cause for procrastination. It’s the enormous amount of paperwork, red tape and serious thinking that goes into putting together a will and especially a trust and the stressful, thought-provoking questions that arise from it all. Who will be the executor? Who do I want to leave my engagement ring to? Do we make the will for if something were to happen to us tomorrow, or do we make it for farther down the road when we are at a ripe old age? (This one really has me befuddled.)

These don’t sound like serious questions until YOU are the one who has to answer them. Then the panic sets in … my palms get sweaty. My throat feels like it’s going to close up. My heart is pounding in my chest so loudly I can hear it in my eardrums. Will I make the right decision for all involved? Will I tick off a niece or nephew if I only leave them my Netflix subscription (just kidding guys!)? Who will get my beloved convertible? Will we still want the selected executor to be just that in 30 years? People change, you know. Do we take this into consideration, or not worry about it? These annoying questions keep popping into my head day and night – and I have no clear answers just yet. I don’t want to make snap decisions – yet I think you can over-think things like this, too.

My husband and I have worked hard for our money and have made every attempt to be conscientious savers. We don’t live extravagantly. So it's only natural that we want some control over what happens to our assets when we die. Experts are telling us that the right strategy depends on our individual circumstances. Herein is the problem. What our circumstances are today, might not be what is best for the future. What if (fill in the blank here) happens? I could go on and on …

We do know one thing -- we want a trust and not just a will. While there is more work and expense involved in putting together a trust, it provides lifetime and after-death wishes to be carried out without court intervention, making it easier on our beneficiaries. It also allows us to avoid probate on our assets – God only knows I’ve given the government enough of my hard earned money while I am alive, I don’t want it to get anymore after I’m gone! Call me stingy, I don’t care.

But in making these decisions there is no one-stop-shopping, and there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Why can’t this process be easier? There I go asking more questions. As a co-worker nicely pointed out to me after editing my blog, we really aren’t procrastinating. After all, we aren’t in our 80s putting together a will. Hmmmm … Good point!

I’d love to hear from you if you’ve had sleepless nights while putting together your “final wishes” and are willing to share your solutions and suggest things to ponder.

Posted Wed, 07/13/2011 - 7:54 am