Do You Have A Will?

Every time Greg and I have to be on the road together, I worry. If both of us should die, I worry about the animals left behind.

We have friends that call us every week or so, (or vice versa) but that's a long time for an animal to go without food or water. I hope our mail carrier might notice the mail wasn't being picked up and call someone, but I doubt it.

Whenever we go on an overnight trip, I text a special friend who I know would move heaven and earth to take care of my animals. I let her know when we leave and when we get back. She knows if she doesn't hear from me by an appointed hour that she needs to come out and check on everyone.

For a long time that was the extent of our after-demise care.

On our last road trip, I sat down and hand-wrote a will. (Let me tell you, it was a Herculean feat with my arthritic hands.) In the State of Texas, this kind of will is legal and doesn't require witnesses since it's written entirely by hand.

It's a crude will to be sure, but it's a just-in-case will until we get around to either using the software or a lawyer.

Our financial advisor said it'll probably cost us around $2K to go through a lawyer. That seems a bit steep to me.

That's when I decided to look into will-maker software.

Most people don't worry about wills because in the end, the law makes sure their kids will share equally in whatever is left over. But we don't have kids. I don't want a judge deciding where our money goes, or worse disposing of our pets.

The handwritten will is extremely simplistic. We made provisions for our favorite relatives and friends. But the first item on the list were our pets. Whoever gets the pets, gets a substantial allowance for their care.

Jammy (the cat) is easy. He gets along with everyone. Nana (the border collie) will be a lot harder to place. She has to live in a home where she's the center of attention--which means being the only pet. I don't have many friends or family with that kind of environment.

I found one will software that seems to have a specific option for pets, so right now it's the front runner. In the end, as long as our pets are protected, the rest is inconsequential. I still want the rest of the estate to go to our chosen people, but it comes second to Nana and Jammy.

Fortunately, we don't have any debts so whatever will we use should be relatively simple to resolve. And although we've settled on primary beneficiaries, a more refined will will probably need more precise language on who gets what. That's a headache waiting to happen.

How about you? Do you have a will? Have you ever tried creating a will from software, or did you go through a lawyer?

I thought $2K seemed high--although it does include living wills and power of attorney. Still, does that seem high to you?


Rebekah Loper said…
If that $2k is wills, living wills, and power of attorney for BOTH you and Greg, then it sounds reasonable. (I worked in a law office as a file clerk for a while.) If it's only for one of you, that's kinda steep. You should be able to call around to various law offices and find out if they have any packages for things like that and what they cost.

Since you have animals that will require long-term care, potentially, after you're gone, you may also want to ask about establishing a trust for them. I don't know how the state of Texas is about probate, but here it can drag on for YEARS, and you don't want someone to be stuck footing a bill on their own until the money clears.

Some idiot at work the other week was trying to tell my husband that if he died, I would be at the mercy of the state/probate for if I got any of our joint assets. I was like "This is why BOTH our names are on everything, and the house title was set up that it automatically transfers to the survivor if one of us dies. Your co-worker has no idea what they're talking about."

We don't have wills yet, but the handwritten wills (as long as we don't show them to anyone, and no one witnesses it) are also legal in Oklahoma, so I think that's a project we will tackle this summer. I'd like to definitely get living wills and power attorney for us as well. I've seen so many situations with people stuck because they had none of those.
Maria Zannini said…
Rebekah: Thank you for sharing your experience!

So few people talk about this.

We've always had both our names on property so if only one of us kicks the bucket, the other one shouldn't have any trouble.

What worries me is that we often travel together.

Thank you again for the advice. It won't hurt to call around. I just don't want to get stuck on someone's mailing list.
Rebekah Loper said…
You should be able to get price quotes without having to give out personal information. :)
Mike Keyton said…
2k made me gasp. Our will cost about £80 but then we don’t have animals just two children. Our only duty now is to periodically remind them where the damn thing is
Maria Zannini said…
Mike: I think it's high too. I'm not really sure what they give you for that amount. In the end, I don't care who gets the money as long as Nana and Jammy are cared for.
Lisa Lombardo said…
It isn't an easy subject to think about. We have ours in place and our son is still at home to take care of the pets and chickens if anything happens. But I think we need to do more. Thanks for the insight.
Stacy McKitrick said…
Another nice perk of being retired military: we got our wills done on base--free! So yeah, we have our wills. But I also need to make a list of where all my books are located (for sale) and such and put it with the will so my daughter won't have to go searching for any of that information. And have you considered your intellectual property? I know you have some books out there (or have you taken them off sale?).
Maria Zannini said…
Lisa: It would give me great peace of mind if I knew someone would be around to take care of the animals.
Maria Zannini said…
Stacy: It's tough with intellectual property. If Greg wants to go through the trouble he could keep the books alive, or he could let them be buried for some digital archeologist to uncover 500 years from now.