To: Georgene Harkness Msg #61, Nov-06-93 00:46:10 Subject: Wills

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From: Marilyn Burge To: Georgene Harkness Msg #61, Nov-06-93 00:46:10 Subject: Wills On (02 Nov 93) Georgene Harkness wrote to Marilyn Burge... GH> Obviously, this is the sensible and most courteous way to handle the GH> situation. Anyone who has specific wishes for his disposal after GH> death should be as thoughtful. My point, however, is that putting GH> the wishes in the will is *not* the way to make sure they are GH> followed, as the *official* reading of the will doesn't usually take GH> place until after the funeral or memorial service. GH> GH> Anyone who had not taken the precautions you are describing should not GH> feel comfortable that his wishes will be followed *just* because they GH> are written in the will. Simply out of curiosity, I checked with the person who is my executor. He is an attorney, and my will was drawn up with the full approval of my attorney of 30 years. Apparently they both disagree with what you say above. The advantage of putting your wishes into the will is that funerals cost mucho dinero in this day and age. Every dime that is spent on your funeral is money that won't go to your estate for distribution to your loved ones. The cost of disposal can easily range from a couple of thousand to tens of thousands of dollars, depending on just how fancy the person making the arrangement wants to get. If you have three children and wish the remainder of the estate to be divided equally among them, the flambuoyncy with which the funeral arrangements are made can make as much as $5,000 difference to each of your children when the estate is distributed among your survivors. If you specify what you want, no funeral director can talk your family into a Cadillac when you have specified a Honda. That gives your family the sales resistence they need, at a time when they are the most vulnerable. That is important. It is also important that your entire estate not be squandered on planting what is basically a condemned house, if you have other wishes for that estate. My executor said that my will was exactly the RIGHT place to put my wishes for the disposal of my remains. There are many considerations that go into making a will. It should be written as though you are going to die next week, not written as though you are going to live to a ripe old age. If circumstances change, you can always change the provisions in your will. Do you have minor children who will need care after you are gone? Do you have adult children who are unable to take care of themselves? Do you have a favorite charity that you want to receive the money rather than a funeral director? Do you wish to leave your major assets such as the house intact, or do you want them sold and the proceeds to be distributed among your heirs? Do you want to specifically exclude a close blood relative? (In some state you must specify that they are being excluded by bequeathing them a dollar, or they can contest the will on the grounds that you were not in your right mind when you executed it, or you wouldn't have forgotten them.) Making a will is a process that takes many weeks or months (it took a year for me to draft mine and finalize it). It is an iterative process that, if done properly, includes those who will be responsible for executing the will after you are gone. Surprises are fine for dramatic effect, but don't really work that well in real life. Include those who will be responsible for carrying out any duties that you have specified in your will. They may be unwilling or unable to carry them out, and they may be irresponsible about who they assign the duties to after you are gone. As for the will being read long after the funeral, that is not so. There are people whose sole job is to read the death notices every morning, check it against the wills that they are holding, and if one of the names matches the name on a will, they immediately notify both the probate court and the executor, and they then file the will. They read the will at that time, to determine whether there is anything in it that needs immediate attention. Your executor will have enough surprises just finding out about your death, without also finding out for the first time that he or she is faced with the burden of tying up all your affairs. Notifying your executor and getting them involved in the will-writing process is more than common courtesy; it is the only way you have to ascertain that you are not placing an unwanted burden on a friend at the worst possible time. In my case, I have an autistic son who will never be completely self-sufficient. He will also never be homeless, thanks to the fact that we found somebody we can trust completely to look after the property and keep an eye on him after we are gone. This is a considerable burden on the friend who has agreed to do this, and one for which he will not be adequately paid at any time during his life. He is doing it out of love for me and as a way to be a true friend to me and my family. It took much thought and negotiation to accomplish these arrangements for our son, and we could not have done it without my friend's full consent and cooperation. To spring this on him for the first time at the reading of the will would have been unthinkable! We aren't talking about a movie here; we are talking about real-life people and real-life responsibilities. Please check with your attorney before posting any further on this topic and possibly leading somebody down the primrose path regarding this very important topic. The way a will is written and executed often colors the lives of those who are close to the deceased for the rest of THEIR lives. GH> In my case, my husband and I have agreed that the surviving spouse (if GH> there is one) will handle the situation as he/she sees fit without any GH> hesitation or second-guessing. If we both die together it won't make GH> any difference to either of us what happens. If my family (or his) GH> feels better doing so, it won't matter to me if they have masses and GH> prayers galore! I hope you really mean that, because your not caring also includes the possibility of the entire estate being spent on just your funeral(s) alone. ... A headache: the most popular form of birth control. --- PPoint 1.70 * Origin: So What's Yer Point? (1:105/40.3) ===================================================================== Many years ago I administered the estate of an elderly lady who *very* explicitly stated in her will that she wanted absolutely *no* religious ceremony, *no* church services, and that her remains were to be disposed of in the *cheapest* possible way. She had no immediate family, but many, many good friends. I arranged the cheapest legal disposition, which happened to involve a cardboard (or hardboard, I forget) casket, cremation, and "accidental" spilling of her ashes (since willful sprinkling of cremains, especially into a body of water, can be illegal under littering or pollution laws). I remember being astonished that no matter how hard I tried, on her behalf, to keep the costs down, the cheapest graceful exit I could arrange still cost more than $600 (in early '80's Canadian dollars)! While not expressly a fault of Christian idealogy, it was clear to me that the influence of Christian _expectations_ upon the funeral services industry and the makers of local ordinances regarding legal methods of disposition of remains, was profound! (I'm trying hard to stay on topic, Mr. Moderator...). That's half the story. This is the good half: the deceased's lady's friends got together and arranged a *huge* party to say goodbye to her. They asked me (I was the trust officer working for the corporate executor of the estate) if I would pay for any of the costs, and after meeting some of her friends and seeing how sincere they were, I agreed to spend another $300 or so for food and "refreshments". The friends contributed more than that themselves. It was quite a blowout! Tons of booze, good food, and tears and laughter shared by strangers who were all friends of this one lady. Though they were from diverse backgrounds, ranged in age from 30 to 90 (many in the latter age group) they all respected her final wishes and said their goodbyes to her in the non-religious way that she wanted. The moral of the story is: the legal instructions you leave in your will can bind the executor in financial terms, but it is up to the friends and family you leave behind to honour your wishes about final ceremonies. MB> By the way. While we're on the subject, if any of you haven't signed MB> a donor's card, and if you have no objections to leaving body parts to MB> those who need them, now is a good time to think about it and do MB> something in that direction. *This* is good advice. Not only do you put the remains to good use, in most cases the recipient institution (university medical school, etc.) arranges for the *free* dispositon of the remains when they have extracted the last ounce of utility from them. Truly a selfeless and yet *frugal* act. ... Excuse me, but is this my 15 minutes?


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