By: Revanche

Estate planning: we signed our will and trust documents!

September 12, 2016

FINALLY: We signed our will and trust documents! Big news!

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!

:: Have you completed a will and/or a trust? Have you ever received, or expect to receive, a distribution of assets from either a will or a trust?

10 Responses to “Estate planning: we signed our will and trust documents!”

  1. Good for you!

    We did our will after dc1 was born and updated it after dc2 was born. At some point I’d like to update it again to change who gets our kids if DH’s brother’s family is unable since 10 years have passed and that has changed relatives’ ages. But since the brother is still in good health, it isn’t an immediate concern. I am a bit worried about our daughter being brought up with traditional values in a way I wasn’t worried about with our son.
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    • Revanche says:

      We have the same concern. Too many of our relatives are traditional-values, mental illness-denying, pseudosciencers and I don’t want JuggerBaby to grow up with that.

  2. Congrats! It took us 6 dang months to get our wills signed after we made them, (and at least 5 1/2 years to make them.) And this was 3 years after I had been executor for my Mom’s estate and seen how much of a pain everything is even with a well-organized estate.
    Emily @ JohnJaneDoe recently posted…How Much Do You Need to Spend on (Good Enough) Smartphones?My Profile

    • Revanche says:

      Thanks for making me feel like I’m in good company! In dealing with your Mom’s estate, was there anything that would have made your life easier?

      • The biggest problem I had was that Jon argued long and hard not to turn it over to an accountant, and I should have. I tried to do everything myself. Not worth the hassle of dealing with the out of town clerk of court.

        The only real hiccup was that we found out over a year after Mom died that she had a lock box at Wells Fargo. Knowing what we know now, she may have never even known she had it. It was empty, but we I had to get a new executrix letter (the old one had expired) and pay to have it drilled.
        Emily @ JohnJaneDoe recently posted…Two Ways We Follow a Dividend Reinvestment StrategyMy Profile

  3. Good work! It’s an interesting explanation of the thinking and feelings behind the “why” and “why not” of getting this particular job done.

    Fast forward a couple of decades: It is REALLY difficult to speak with adult children about the inevitable. They truly don’t want to think about it. So it’s a good idea to have all your legal stuff in order — and review it every year or two to be sure it’s still the way you want it — and also to create a file or binder that contains everything your kid or your executor will need to handle all your financial stuff and anything else that you juggle in your life, right down to what will happen to the dog and the blog.

    BTW, be sure your immediate heir is listed on your investments as the “beneficiary” of each fund. Community property laws presumably will cause them to redound to PiC sooner or later, but clearly indicating where you want everything to go under which circumstances speeds things along and simplifies life for whoever is left behind.
    Funny about Money recently posted…PLEASE! Don’t “give” me your right of way!My Profile

  4. Cassie says:

    Putting together a will has been on my to do list for 8 years now *cringe* What’s worse is that my mother in law works at a legal firm that could help us with it, and I still haven’t done it. I think I’ll have to talk to my husband about that tonight.

    I’ve received heirlooms, but never cash. I expected to receive a small inheritance when my grandmother passed away, but I’m beginning to think that won’t be happening. If I do receive anything, it will be after my parents pass away, which in theory shouldn’t be for quite a while.
    Cassie recently posted…2nd Blogoversary!My Profile

  5. NZ Muse says:

    CONGRATS!!!

    I expect nothing from my parents but I guess I wouldn’t be surprised if they did have some assets to leave behind. Not counting on it.

    Always basically thought trusts were for rich people. Then yesterday I did an online survey (it turns out it was on behalf of a company that does wills/trusts) and learned a bit more about them and maybe they might be more relevant to me than I thought … Not right now but possibly later on!

    I believe in NZ if you own investment property doing so through a trust is the thing to do. (And it’s pretty common to own IP here)
    NZ Muse recently posted…How homeownership saves me moneyMy Profile

  6. We updated our will this past year. It was something that we had put off for years, and then I resolved to do it before the end of 2015 – and we actually did it in the spring of 2016. Somehow, it’s a very easy thing to “put off”. I’m glad you have taken care of it. It’s off your to-do list : ) My favourite part of your post is the bit where you say that there’s been a shift in you towards valuing life more. I wish you a real turn-around with your health. Enough with these “foul germs”!
    Fruclassity (Ruth) recently posted…Don’t Let Them Tell You You’ll Be “Just Fine”My Profile

  7. I am embarrassed to say that I have only done the bare minimum in saying: I want X to have all of my money.

    That’s about it.

    If I die now, everything goes to Baby Bun *shrug* That’s the law here.
    sherry @ save. spend. splurge. recently posted…August 2016 Budget Roundup = $505,631.55 or a decrease of $3333.91 or -0.66%My Profile

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