Photo by Matthias Zomer from Pexels

Photo by Matthias Zomer from Pexels

Raise your hand and shout YES if you like thinking about your own death.

That’s what I thought. But ready or not, here it comes. If not sooner, then later. It’s important for those we leave behind to make sure they’re not left with a mess.

I’m not talking about ridding the basement of decades-old high school football programs. And I don’t mean clearing the attic of elementary school report cards. Although I can talk about that; just not today.

I’m referring to our last will and testament. I’m not a financial advisor and I’m not promoting any legal software products. You all are smart enough to figure out how to contact an attorney to make this happen. I’m encouraging you to Get.It.Done.Now.

There have been a number of will-related surveys done in the last few years. USA Today reported in July 2015 that 64% of Americans don’t have wills. A Gallup poll in 2016 demonstrated that only 44% of Americans have up-to-date wills that reflect their current circumstances. is quoted as saying, “If you cared at all about your family, you would not put them through the administrative turmoil that comes with dying intestate.” Dying intestate means dying without a will in place. says that, “When this happens, the intestacy laws of the state where you reside will determine how your property is distributed upon your death. This includes any bank accounts, securities, real estate, and other assets you own at the time of death.”

So…I’m going to ask again for a show of hands and a YES shout-out if you consider it a great idea for your state government to decide who gets everything you own at the time of your death. Ya, me neither.

Even if you don’t have a lot of money or any family to whom to bequeath it, don’t you want to designate a charity to receive the funds?

In addition to identifying new homes for your money, property, and belongings, consider establishing a living will so that if you become incapacitated to the point that you can’t act responsibly on your own behalf, your wishes can be made known to your doctor or hospital and family.

And then…make sure that your executor knows where these two wills are kept. If you have a secret bank safety deposit box and store your will in there, it won’t serve its purpose.

My husband and I each maintain a copy of both wills in a designated spot in the house, with the originals in our bank safety deposit box. Copies of our life insurance policies, the bank safety deposit key, and other important papers are kept with the copies of the wills. Our executor is aware of where these are safely stored.

I don’t care for drama in life, so I don’t want any of it when I die.

To quote attorney Gregory Herman-Giddens, “Bad things happen to the families of good people who die without a will.”

I’ll talk about a digital estate plan as well as funeral/burial planning in my next post. I think I’ve already given you plenty to think about for the next four days.