All I Will for Christmas Is…

All I Will for Christmas Is - picture of last will and testament with a pen

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I have to admit a little secret. Seriously though…let’s keep this on the “DL”, m’kay? Don’t tell Holly. She’ll give me grief about it for, like, 8 million years.

Here goes…

I am slightly afraid of flying.

Whew. That wasn’t so bad. Honestly, it feels great to get that weight off of my chest.

Now, when I say that I’m afraid of flying, I don’t mean the paralyzed, weepy, and hyperventilating kind of fear. In fact, an outsider would never know that I’m nervous at all. While politely elbow wrestling with my neighbor over control of the arm rest, I am the quintessential image of cool, calm, and collected. It is my thoughts that betray me. You see, every time we get ready to for take-off or landing, I feel like we are all going to die. Pleasant, I know.

So, there you go. Now that my dirty little secret is exposed, there is nothing else to see here…except this. I have another secret I need to admit. This one is actually a lot worse. You see, um, the fact is…we don’t have a will.

I know, I KNOW. We are derelict in our duty as parents and children. Even though the chances of us both dying at the same time are extremely minimal, Holly and I know that we should have a will. We don’t even have a good excuse since we could do it cheap and easy online. Yet, we continue to put it off. Lame, I know.

Our recent trip to Europe really had me thinking about what would happen if we didn’t come back. (It’s amazing what your mind thinks about on an 8-hour plane ride.) So, I’ve decided to give my children a Christmas gift this year – one that I hope they never see. Here are just a few of the reasons that I’ve finally decided to complete my will.

1) Custody of Our Children

Look, I don’t know about you, but I’m not really in the mood for the government to decide anything for me these days. Call me cynical, but I’m not sure that they always make the best decisions. So, as you can imagine, I’m not too keen on the government deciding who would get custody of our precious children if we both die. Holly and I have talked, and we do have specific wishes and instructions for raising our children should this happen. Unfortunately, they are not written down at the moment. Rather than drag this fight into a courtroom, we need to get our wishes on paper. Honestly, this is reason enough for us to finally finish our will.

2) Instructions on How Our Estate Should Be Handled

Dudes, I’m not sure when we grew up, but somewhere along the line we did. I sometimes look around and wonder when the adults are going to show up. Yet, Holly and I have actually accumulated quite a bit of stuff – and wealth – during our marriage. We have money. We have property. We have investments. We have several different types of assets that would need to be distributed upon our death. Guess who gets to decide what happens to all of that if we don’t have a will in place. Yeppers, the government. After working so hard to attain these things, we’d at least like a say in how they are passed along in our absence. The best way to do that is through completing a will.

Note: We already have more than enough life insurance in place.  We are not worried about that component of this issue at all.

3) Tomorrow is Not Guaranteed

As a mortician, I know this. As a human being, I’m in denial about this. After a decade of working in the funeral business, I’ve seen more than my share of young people who have died. Whether it is from an accident or illness, I’m constantly surprised at the number of young people who die every day. While I may not be ready to admit it emotionally, intellectually, I know that my time could be up any minute. Therefore, it really is time to get my affairs in order in case the unthinkable happens. I know my family, and especially my children, deserve that.

Yep, it is a Christmas gift that only a mortician would give. It is a Christmas gift that I hope never gets used – at least in the near future. Yet, it is a gift that needs to be given. I’m giving the gift of a last will and testament this Christmas. How about you? Just follow this link and get started today.

(The preceding post does include some affiliate links.)

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  1. I also have a similar fear of flying. Whilst I’m not frozen with fear, or need valium to survive a flight, I do get a little tense everytime I take off or land. I only relax once I’ve convinced myself that we aren’t tumbling too quickly towards the ground!!

    Regarding the will, a lot of people put this off. I’m in the process of running a survey amongst people that I know and so far over 90% of people who are otherwise financially responsible do not have a written will. I think its just so easy to put off, and the fact that “it’ll never happen”, mean that people just don’t get round to getting in done, however responsible they may otherwise be.

    1. I am getting better at flying. I still don’t like it, but I no longer feel like I am going to die every single time. That is an improvement.

  2. That’s actually one of the best gifts you can give your loved ones (and yourself) and I hope they never have to use it. This is a good reminder that we’ve put off making a will for far too long.

    1. It has literally been on our list of things to do for years. We have just put it off..and off…and off…

  3. No will here, either. Now that we have updated our life insurance, I know I need to delve into this more. I want to set up trusts for the girls and figure out how that is paid out to their guardians. If we both go at once, the girls would get a hefty chunk of change and I want to keep greed and frivolity out of their lives.

    1. Yeah, that is a good idea too. You wouldn’t want a random family member stealing your children’s life insurance funds.

  4. I hope this will never happen to your kids. Leaving them alone and with nothing is something we parents would’n want. A will is just a preparation if something bad happens, but I am slowly thinking about also writing our own will.

  5. I can’t believe you don’t have a will and you have two kids. That’s crazy. If it takes a paid affiliate post to actually get one, then good.

    1. That is is not a paid affiliate post! OMG! I wish! There is an affiliate link to legal zoom but we don’t make anything unless someone signs up. Unfortunately, that’s pretty doubtful.

      I agree with you thought about it being crazy- we have had it on our list of things to do forever and it has been pushed back until now.

  6. I’ve always thought about this but I’ve never gotten around to finally writing it. Nice work to both of you!:)

  7. Sounds like an excellent idea! You guys definitely need a will! I can’t really talk because we don’t have one either, but, we do plan to make one once we have kids.

  8. Have to say I’m shocked you don’t have a will. I really appreciate the sound financial information you provide and a will is financial basics 101. I hope frugality didn’t stop you from getting one. I hope you both have life insurance and plenty of it. Everyone thinks bad stuff only happens to the other guy. Well, we are all the other guy. If you don’t have a will AND life insurance you are really hurting your kids if anything happens. Frankly, I’m not dying and leaving a financial and custody mess behind. What a disappointing post.

    1. Yes, we do have a ton of life insurance- most of it we bought when we were in our 20’s and before we had kids. I would never leave my kids without the financial means to make it through to adulthood and more. Greg has worked in the funeral industry for his entire adult life and we have seen what happens. With that being said, a will has been easier for us to put off for some reason…but it’s in motion now.

  9. I think this is wonderful gift to give your children, and I too hope they will never see it.

    I would also encourage you to include a living will as well for the benefit of both you and Holly should something happen to one of you. I know it’s not a Monday-morning-coffee-conversation topic, but having your wishes written out regarding end of life decisions and appointing a POA who you trust to respect those wishes, takes a huge burden off of a spouse at a very difficult and emotional time. I encourage you to look into it more.

    1. I don’t think that’s a bad idea at all. We actually have plenty of experience dealing with the other side of that issue through working in the funeral industry.

  10. Wow I’m so surprised at the level of harshness in a couple of these comments. Just because you run a PF blog doesn’t mean that you are perfect. I think of all the financial things that we all know we should do, this is the one that falls to the bottom of everyone’s to-do list for a pretty simple reason: it is no fun to think about dying. Also, wills can be expensive if you have them done by estate attorneys. I applaud you both for putting your will in place AND for writing about it. My hubby and I definitely sleep better at night (and breathe easier when we fly) knowing that we have this in place.

    1. Unfortunately, we are definitely not perfect. We have just focused more on the financial things for some reason and let a will go until now. I am not surprised by the harshness of the comments BUT I think it makes sense to write about what we are doing in our lives and why.

    2. There’s a difference between just being in debt to a credit card company and with leaving your children in limbo when it comes to who is going to take care of them. It isn’t unreasonable to be “harsh” (and I really don’t think the above comments are anywhere near as harsh as they could have been, just saying, wow, your oldest is pretty old to not have done this yet) when you’re talking about children’s welfare, especially if there’s any question about who is going to take care of them in the event of parents’ death (as in, you have more than one relative). Without kids or other dependents it isn’t so important.

      1. I didn’t think you were too harsh.

        But hey, I’m certainly not perfect. I’m also not afraid to share the details of where we are- good or bad.
        We are extremely close with my parents and already agreed they would take care of the kids if anything happened…but that obviously doesn’t mean anything if we haven’t gotten it in writing in an official way. That is what we’re working on now. We simply let it get pushed down the list until now.

  11. Just don’t forget to update you will…. My parents had a will they did in 1977… I was born in 1980… guess when they updated their will? 2014…. so there was a large stretch of time that I didn’t exist for the purposes of their will.

    My wife and I are in the process of setting up our will at this point. We have already decided who will take our kids (they have agreed to it) and now we just need to actually do the paperwork side. We are debating sucking it up and paying for a lawyer to set up a trust for our kids just so we know what money we leave them, won’t get misused to quickly.

    1. Yeah, that is a good point. I’m sure that happens more often than people think.

    2. Our will cost a pretty big price (>$500) upfront, but the lawyer updates it for free whenever we have a life-changing event or estate law changes in a way that affects us. He contacts us once a year about any of that kind of information.

      Re: the kids and the money, we have one set of relatives taking care of the kids and another relative taking care of the money.

  12. We were actually really good at getting a will done as soon as my son was born; however, we moved from FL to NY when he was two and we actually neglected to get a will done in NY for a few years (which for those who don’t know, wills are state based so if you move states, you will need to update your will per the laws of the state where you live). Anywho, we finally got around to that and I feel much better.

    1. Good job, Shannon! I did not know that wills are state-based either. That is good to know even though it doesn’t matter much to us right now.

  13. I too have a similar fear of flying Greg. I know it’s completely irrational, and not paralyzed by it but do deal with it. As to the will, I could not agree more as to the reasoning. The last thing we want is for the government to decide where our kiddos goes – as well as our assets. My in-laws actually don’t have a will either and we’ve been talking to them about it for several years. They just tell us that since my wife is an only child they don’t have to worry – sadly I’ve seen the opposite to be true in other situations.

    1. Yeah, we definitely don’t want the government deciding anything for us. We have things in writing- just need to make it official.
      And you’re right about your in-laws. Through years in the funeral industry, we’ve seen all kinds of crazy things happen. Other family members tend to come out of the woodwork when they realize there is money on the table. It’s sad.

  14. A will is on our “to do” list as well. Just part of good overall planning. Wills, death wishes, etc are another one of those taboo topics to talk about it seems. It’s good to get you wishes know so they can be followed. My dad passed a few years ago and we had no idea of his wishes. We as a family have much more open discussion on the topic now.

    1. It’s not a taboo topic for us- just something that gets put off. I guess that’s what happens when you work a million hours. It’s just a matter of making time and also making it a priority.

  15. People are entitled to their opinion but a couple of commenters really came gunning for you guys. 🙁 PF bloggers try to lead by example but ahem…we’re all a work in progress! I think it’s good that you can admit that you don’t have a will but realized the importance of it. You didn’t have to share this and no one would have been the wiser. Part of being a PF blogger is also admitting things that you and everyone else can still work on and learn from.

    1. Thanks Kassandra. Basically, this was a “here is what we’re working on” post. I don’t mind the negative feedback though. I really don’t. That’s just part of it. I just use negative feedback as fuel to do better about 99% of the time!

  16. I agree with MMD! I think it’s the gift of peace of mind. You don’t want your kids with someone who you didn’t plan in the event that something should happen. Even I have a small, easy will and it’s just me, but I don’t want any money going to my brother. lol. Sad but true.

    1. Yeah, I hear ya. That’s probably part of the reason we put it off for so long- my mom would be in charge of our estate and I trust her 1000% percent. But my mom won’t be around forever, unfortunately. =(

  17. This is such a fresh reminder of the importance of a will! Especially for the married and married with children folks. I think this is a great gift to your family (although I, too, would be hoping they don’t have to see it!). I’m going to share this with my readers in an effort to inspire them – thanks for the good read!

    1. Definitely a gift you don’t want anyone to ever receive…at least not for a really long time.

  18. Yikes! I saw this post and immediately closed the page.. It’s just one of those things that l hate talking about . We don’t have wills either. A bit easier for us since no kids are involved. We have friends in place to care for our dogs, if needed. Living will us probably more important for us, but we still procrastinate 🙁 . A gift only a mortician could give???? Love it, cracked me up.

  19. I’m with you on the fear of flying, to the extent that an entire vacation is ruined for me due to the anticipation of flying to our chosen vacation spot. I get on the plane like a pro but my ears are tuned to the sound of the engines and every air pocket we hit has me doing the white knuckle routing on the arm rest. Yet so many of our vacations involve flying within the vacation, as well as to and from. Sigh….

    We have our wills and estate plans in order. Wills, with modification over the years, have been in place since our son was born in ’82. We had named our friends guardians and gave them a letter detailing what we wanted for our son. Don’t forget to talk to your prospective guardians to make sure they are willing and can handle having the responsibility for your children.

  20. I do not like any of the choices we have about who gets to raise our kid if we both croke, but I at least we did make one and have it in a will. It would suck to have the family fighting and having to go to court. I think a will is a great gift, even if it is a bit morbid.

    1. Life insurance is morbid too, but definitely required! We’re used to morbid stuff over here =/

  21. Wow, I’m a flyer like that, except that it does show. Very embarrassing! 😛
    Great post, though! Definitely a great idea for you guys to get a will, ASAP! And I pray you will not be needing it for a VERY long time. 🙂

  22. I need to do a will or trust. This just keeps reminding me. To many assets to trust the government w/ anything b/c you know they will F it up and just keep what they want.

  23. I’m sure you’ve done the research and know what to do… but in our state a will isn’t enough. We aren’t legally able to leave our estate to a minor (i.e. our kids), so we had to set up a family trust as well. In the trust we specified down to a “t” exactly how the money should be spent, who got what, etc.

    We did it when our oldest was 4, so we also waited too long. But it’s nice to have it done.

    1. Greg is researching it, but yes, that’s good to know. We are currently doing that and a few other year-end things like topping off accounts, etc. It will definitely feel good when it’s over!

  24. I feel like flying for me as I get older has gotten worse, before it was an adventure in the air, now it’s a steel death trap waiting to crash. Things change when you get older I guess.

    1. Steel death trap sounds about right. I am getting better but I don’t enjoy flying that much. I am surprised I did so well on our 8-hour flights to and from Europe.

  25. That’s a wonderful Christmas presents for your kids, Greg and Holly! The designation of guardians is reason enough to do one – agree 100%! While I hope that it never happens, I want it to be our choice in who raises Lauren and Taylor if Chris and I are no longer here to do so. And like you said, wills are very affordable to do. Unless you have a highly complicated situation, most online will will suffice and are cheap. So many people do like to stick their head in the sand when it comes to wills and I get it. I don’t like facing my own mortality any more than the next person does, but I do want to make sure that my wishes and care of my kids is determined by me, not the government or turned into a major family squabble.

    1. Yes, exactly. Our situation is not complicated at all, fortunately.

  26. I don’t have a will yet because I don’t have any kids or dependents and I also don’t really have any assets… yet. But once that happens I’m setting up a will right away. Wills are very important.

  27. This is now officially on my 2015 to-do list. Thanks for the reminder to both get a will and to send a Christmas card to my mortician aunt!

  28. I just googled and found out that 55% of adults don’t have wills so you were not alone there. We have wills but the weird thing is … the lawyer recommended that we did not put custody information for the kids in it. I found this weird but he had what sounded like a reasonable explanation at the time. It is on our to do list to get some advice on how to handle custody/guardianship/trusts etc.

  29. WE don’t have a will, because we haven’t really thought we would need one until we have children. Our investments have benficiaries (each other, but failing that it will go to our estate) and we don’t own our house outright yet because.. well, mortgage.

  30. catherine says:

    We don’t have a will either. I don’t even have on paper how I’d want stuff managed if I did die…ugh. death terrifies me. My goal for 2015 is to get a proper life insurance policy and get my grown up paperwork in order!

  31. Wills are not a subject I like talking about, but my very practical wife made sure that this year we wrote not only our wills but our healthcare powers of attorney, and even some instructions for our final arrangements (we each have definite and different ideas on how we’d like that handled). It’s not an easy thing for most of us to do, but I commend you for making the decision to get your will done and talking about it so others can benefit. For anyone planning to do their will online, make sure you follow the requirements of your state (witnesses, notarization, etc.) to make sure your will is legally valid.

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