Estate planning: we signed our will and trust documents!
September 12, 2016
We will not die intestate. JuggerBaby will not have to relive the plot of A Little Princess.
Best case scenario, we won’t need to execute any of this for so many years that this day will be a faint memory. But if we’re not so lucky, we’ll be as prepared as we possibly could be.
Our estate is relatively simple so it was a little embarrassing to take as long as we did (rather, that I did, since this was my project) and I didn’t expect to be anything but impatient and exultant in wrapping this up. It’s taken a record 10 and a half months to get these documents in order. But as usual, simple doesn’t mean easy.
It was held up by two things. One was sensible – we had to complete the refinance so we could easily retitle that property.
The other just feels, for lack of a better work, absurd. I’ve spent most of 2016 down with one plague or another. Right this moment I’m weakly trying to fight off the latest one to creep its way into my respiratory system. Begone, ye foul germs! It seemed less than civilized to go to fancy law offices, a dribbly, germy zombie, signing legal documents I couldn’t make heads or tails of.
Going into this whole thing, PiC had a natural reluctance to get into the nitty gritty that I disregarded on the principle that, yes, it’s depressing and terrible to think about but NOT doing it is worse! I was completely rational when sharing our thinking and process over a year ago, laying out the steps we were taking in my In Case of Emergency series kickoff. Of course I did. And of course, when the paperwork was sent over for review, the weight of the decisions we were signing to fell like an anvil in my gut.
As it turns out, when you’re planning for the future like this, you’re imagining the events that you’d want to transpire after your death. Then the inch-and-a-half tall stack of text is in front of you, you’re staring at a check box next to “do everything possible to prolong life” and another one next to “Do Not Resuscitate,” and your family’s possible future where either question is a reality flashes, slow motion, in front of you. It’s not a stretch to imagine, either, we’ve already gone through this with family members. We know how it feels to make the decision to keep trying or pull the plug. Suddenly everything feels awful and real.
We had a tough conversation over those documents, where we mutually avoided talking in detail about our long-gone parents, having to make that decision, and the idea of leaving JuggerBaby way too early.
The surprising part? Something had shifted in me. For most of my life, I didn’t care if anything happened to me because I didn’t have a deep emotional attachment to anything or anyone. I had responsibilities and a duty to take care of my family but while that was strong enough to anchor me in working, earning, and paying off debt, it was no replacement for having a compelling reason to live. It’s not to say I didn’t want to live, I just wasn’t worried about not living either, if that makes any sense.
Now, I do not want to imagine leaving my family to fend for themselves without me. I have a lifetime of guidance to give, and money management to share, and hopes for a future with my partner. But like we’ve always said, failure to plan for the events of your death are both futile and selfish. If either one of us were horribly injured or died, it would be terrible. But not having our financial affairs in order, not knowing what the other person wanted, and having to untangle all of that while grieving? MUCH worse. It’s also irrational to act as if planning for your death means that you want or you’re tempting fate, I think, but I’ve heard a lot of people use that excuse. Pardon me, but we ARE going to die someday. The least we can do for our loved ones is spare them some turmoil to go along with the pain of loss.
So. Now then. As I said, we talked, we emoted, we had feelings. And then we went to the lawyer’s office and signed everything officially with a notary witness. IT IS DONE.
Next steps: they will send us a binder for our records. We will begin moving our assets into the trust because an unfunded trust is an empty shell. That’s a story for another day! For now, I’m going to toast a glass of watered down juice (for the purposes of avoiding heartburn because my body is 89 years old) to completing the last huge To Do on my list from 2015!