To: Georgene Harkness Msg #61, Nov-06-93 00:46:10 Subject: Wills
From: Marilyn Burge
To: Georgene Harkness Msg #61, Nov-06-93 00:46:10
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> 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
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)
... 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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