The COVID 19 Pandemic has spawned a number of articles recommending that people write or update their Wills. In the interest of injecting some levity into the situation, I am revisiting this blog post from several years ago. There are several iterations of this article – this version was cribbed from Willing Wisdom, with minor revisions.
- You spent a lifetime working, saving and generally deferring consumption to fund your retirement. Now that your money has outlasted you, it will be awesome to see how the government divides your assets. Governments always make amazing decisions about other people’s money.
- If you die (I say “if” because you may be the first to live forever) the grieving process is enriched when family hunts through your files and possessions in an attempt to figure out what you owned. This is like a scavenger hunt but with more zeros. After the hunt, some might say they’d like to bring you back from the dead and kill you themselves – but they’re just kidding. This is a game the whole family can play. In truth, it’s a game the whole family will play because everyone wants to make sure others get more.
- Some say a Will is important when you have young children because the issue of guardianship is addressed – you know, naming a trusted person to raise and care for your children. This is a tough decision – maybe the toughest decision of all – this is why you want to avoid it at all costs. Let Lady Luck – and the courts – work their magic. Your kids will understand.
- Wills are often written at the same time as Personal Directives that clearly outline your preferred medical interventions when you can’t communicate your wishes. But here again a Personal Directive denies your family the opportunity to play a fun guessing game. It’s called Resuscitate – Do Not Resuscitate. This game is best played at the hospital in front of doctors and nurses, who are always fascinated to see who wins. Enduring Powers of Attorney? Rinse and repeat – only with your money.
- Studies show that people are superstitious – and they should be. When you write your Will, you will almost certainly die shortly thereafter.
- A Will simplifies matters for your family after you die is so overrated. Why deny your family that special moment when they gather at your funeral and one relative whispers, “I wonder how the jewelry will be divided” and another relative answers, “What jewelry?”
- All lawyers are loaded – they make a fortune writing Wills. The rumor that they make more money representing angry families in court when there is no Will is simply hearsay.
- Writing a Will and informing your family sets expectations high. It’s much better to keep everyone in the dark – especially the one child who’s providing the bulk of your late-in-life care. Strong, dynastic families are built on secrets and pitting children against each other after you die intestate. Court battles toughen children up and prepare them for the real world.
- If you write a Will and share your wishes with your intended beneficiaries, they will likely never work another day in their lives. People usually don’t work because they want to. Even billionaires who continue to work and start new businesses are usually faking it.
- When you write a Will you appoint an Executor who is responsible for carrying out your last wishes. But this denies your family the opportunity to debate the merits of burial versus cremation. This creates a lively debate, especially when everyone is grieving. Great families thrive on chaos, anger and regret. Clearly communicated Wills and last wishes undermine this principle.
Written by Gary Kirk