Tomorrow I’m meeting up with my lawyer to get a will drawn up. Unfortunately, I had a blonde-moment when I was making the appointment and didn’t realize that it’s Halloween and I’ll be spending the day dressed up like Garth from Wayne’s World. At least my costume might bring a bit of levity to what’s a pretty morbid topic. Planning for your own demise isn’t a whole lot of fun, but it’s really important. Having a current will outlines to the executor of your estate of your estate exactly what you want to happen to you and all of your stuff when you kick the bucket. To make sure my will is legally binding and won’t lead to a blood feud within my family, I’m having mine done by a lawyer. Before I go see my lawyer tomorrow (with my wicked 80′s hair), there’s been a few things I’ve had to think about/prepare:
What to do with my corpse
I’ve decided that I want my body donated to science, if possible. I don’t care about a big fancy, gold plated coffin or a nice shady spot in the cemetery. I’d rather put my body to good use, after all, I won’t be needing it. I’ve actually had a discussion about cadavers with my sister’s boyfriend who is in med school. The cadavers they use are a huge part of how they learn surgical techniques and from the sounds of it, the bodys are always treated with dignity. Also, once science is done with your body, many facilities will cremate your remains, which can be then returned to your family if you wish. Donating your body to science is also one of the cheapest ways to take care of your remains, which means more money left as part of my estate.
It’s also a good idea to stipulate what kind of ceremony you want following your death. Private family event, wake and big funeral, whatever you want. Tradition around here dictates a wake and a funeral, but I’m not super keen on wakes. Anyone who really wants to pay respects will go to the funeral, so I’m leaning towards suggesting just a funeral. Besides, there’s not likely going to be a body to look at, so that last part of a wake would be super awkward, no?
What do I own?
This is probably what most people think about when they think about wills, and yup, it’s a big part of most wills. My lawyer asked me to put together a list of my assets. Assets include any property, your personal stuff, and anything you have money in. My assets include: my house, my car, my saving accounts, mutual funds, RRSPs, GICs, all the stuff in my house, and life insurance plan through work.
What do I owe?
My lawyer also asked me to bring a list of any liabilities. Unfortunately debt doesn’t disappear with death, so my will has to outline what to do with my mortgage and credit card.
Decide who will be in charge
The person who is in charge of your estate is called the executor. It’s a big job, so be picky. The executor is responsible for taking care of any taxes and making sure your wishes are carried out. I’m going with a very knowledgable and trusted family members for my executors and alternate executors.
Decide who gets what
The people you want to leave stuff to are called, in official terms, beneficiaries. I suppose the more stuff you have the more complicated this can be. Luckily, I don’t own a whole pile of stuff, or maybe more accurately, a whole pile of valuable stuff. There are a few family heirlooms that I have that I will make sure stay in the family, otherwise, my stuff will be left most to my sisters.
That’s what I’ll be bringing to my appointment, which should be enough to get my will well under way. Going to a lawyer is obviously not the cheapest way of doing a will, but I’m willing to pay a little more to ensure my will is done correctly. Besides, maybe if I pay my lawyer a little extra, he’ll let me write a will on par with Tiger Dunlop’s caustic will and last testament (check it out here).