Wednesday, March 25, 2009
I know none of us needs any more depressing or "downer" material in our lives right now. But the tragic and unexpected death of Natasha Richardson reminded me of something my husband and I have meant to do since we had our first child, but that somehow never climbed up the (constantly growing) to-do list: Make a will.
When you think of a will, you probably think about the divvying up of assets, and scenes in movies when the do-gooder magically gets the entire estate and the smarmy guy makes a smarmy face. And it's true, a will does set forth where your stuff would go. But much more importantly: A will is the only document that allows you to designate a guardian for your children, should anything unexpected happen to you. Clearly, figuring out who to designate in this role isn't the most pleasant conversation to have with your spouse. Wouldn't plan a hot date-night around it. But it's obviously an important decision to make.
We should all also look into a living will and a health care proxy. A living will is simple: It tells your medical care provider whether you want life support. The companion document, the health care proxy, designates somebody to make your medical decisions for you if you are not capable of making them yourself. The requirements for these documents are pretty simple, but do vary by state.
Of course if you have complicated assets or other exceptional circumstances, you should consult a lawyer to draft these documents but, for the majority of people, there are simple tools that allow you to memorialize your wishes yourself. Willmaker is a great program to create a simple will, and you can consult Agingwithdignity.org for more information on living wills and health care proxies.
Tomorrow, I promise, I will write about shopping, or puppies, or candy...!