This whole idea to write up a legal document to give surviving loved ones clarity about how to take care of a person’s estate after one dies goes back to the ancient Greeks and later the Romans. Yet, there are people who put it off and put it off … and in the end the deceased person’s loved ones are left to their own devices to determine what mom or dad or whomever “would have wanted.” Doesn’t seem easy for the surviving loved ones, does it? Yet, an estimated 68% of Americans have no “last will and testament” to guide their survivors.
The practical fact is a lot of folks…perhaps all of that 68%…are just overwhelmed by the prospect of systematically sorting who will get what, or how much or when. Or some folks may not feel that they want to spend the legal fees on someone who will draw up a will for them. And there are some among us who just don’t want to so tangibly address their own mortality. This may sound a bit odd, but there actually is a month designated as “National Make a Will Month,” and yes, that month just happens to be August.
I won’t get into that whole mortality conversation with this last question about our own mortality, but there are ways to more easily address the first two potential objections to writing a will. A National Foundation called the Center for Science in the Public Interest has a web site that can walk through a legitimate and legal document that checks all the boxes. And they have a catchy name for this site; It’s simply called Free Will. They claim that it can take as little as 20 minutes to write a legally-binding “last will and testament,” and it’s available to everyone who is at least 18 years of age and that you agree to the terms of services on the web site.
And they are very good about explaining all sorts of issues that we don’t often associate with this somber document, like how to donate stocks or how to donate cryptocurrency and much more. Their Blog is quite practical and useful covering definitions of all the legal language that most of us don’t speak even if we’ve had a few semesters of Latin. Their leading post is very helpful if you are going to share this site with that person in your personal orbit who has all manner of excuses for not taking the step toward writing a will. Let’s face it. Having a will is the only way to assure that the people whom you want to have an item or an asset that has been special to you actually do receive it…and those whom you don’t want getting their hands on your special something simply won’t.
Now that I’ve got your attention, please answer the questions on what else you would like to know about life’s documents that prepare you AND your loved ones for, well, everything. Living Wills, Power of Attorney for Health, Power of Attorney for Finance, etc.
Charlotte Bishop is an Aging Life Care Advisor, Geriatric Care Manager and founder of, certified professionals who are geriatric advocates, resources, counselors and friends to older adults and their families in metropolitan Chicago. She also is the co-author of How Do I Know You? A Caregiver’s Lifesaver for Dealing with Dementia.