Matthew Gates 7m 1,698
The views of this article are the perspective of the author and may not be reflective of Confessions of the Professions.
Write Your Own Will Today
Death is happening all around us all of the time. Insects are dying, bacteria is dying, and even our own cells are dying each and every single second of every single day. Without death, there can be no life and without life, there can be no death. If you are reading this, I assume you are no stranger what death does to any living thing. Whether you have had a loss of a family member, a friend, or even a pet. We all go through the process of grieving and thinking about when that person was alive. When we turn on the news, its nearly death and destruction everyday, from acts of terrorism, including mass shootings, to obituaries, death plagues our world. A while ago, I wrote a confession called Get Your Shit Together to help people understand the reality of what we are never taught in school: you are going to die. Yes, you,reading this. And your spouse. And your parents. And your siblings. I’m sorry to be the one to have to tell you this, but everyone dies.
The hope is that afterwards, we might go somewhere in spirit, but who knows. I do not quite have that answer, despite some cannabis use in college that surely led me to believe that there is more for our souls that goes beyond the human body, but death does not really reveal any answers to the living. There are so many things we can know, but there are so many more things that we just cannot know. We can pretend and make up things that help us explain things for our own comfort, but death really does not reveal any secrets. It is a touchy subject to talk about death, and not once in elementary school, middle school, high school, or even college was it mentioned, despite the fact that by the time I reached college, I had several friends and extended family members who had already experienced the mystery of death, but never came back to tell the story. Had there been some course, someone to talk about death, we might be more comfortable with our own deaths, talking about them, and resolving the aftermath of our deaths.
For most wealthy people with money and assets, they tend to understand this concept: someone probably explained it to them? I’m not a wealthy person so I can only guess this much is true. Celebrities and CEOs and even the President of the United States all have wills that state things that should be done in the event of their death. For millions of other people, they may die from any kind of unforeseen circumstance, including the taking of their own life, murder and homicide, accidental death, etc. When it comes to the death of a loved one without a will, the family and state usually get involved and depending on what is to be done, the state decides the next of kin to take action, or may take action themselves. In matters where money or property may be involved, in which family is unable to decide who gets what and may fight over it, the state may step in to try and settle the matter.
The whole point of filling out a will is not just to acknowledge the fact that you can die at any moment, but to take responsibility for your own life and death as well. When you fill out a will, you are speaking from your grave about what you want done and in most circumstances, you will be done. If you wish for your spouse to have the house and access to your bank accounts and money, than stating it makes everything more easy to understand. A will tends to help ease the grief family members are already dealing with by providing some insight into what you want when you are gone. You obviously cannot come back and talk about it and no one can really guess what you actually wanted, but the possibility of the state, with an appointed lawyer, stepping in and telling your family what they get and what the state gets will likely happen if you do not happen to state your last wishes.
You should not wait until you are old to write out a will. You should write it as early as the age of 18. No matter what age you are, you can write out a will. I really do wish that they at least touched upon the topic and made us write our wills out in high school, but they never did. No matter what you own or how much money you have or how little you have, even if you have nothing at all, you should at least write out a will. What exactly is a will? A will states:
- Who gets your money
- Who gets your property
- Who gets any remaining assets
- Who has the right to make decisions for you upon your sickness or death (power of attorney)
- How you want your death to be approached including:
- funeral arrangements: autopsy, organ donations, embalming process, open casket, closed casket, cremation, burial, mausoleum, etc.
- flowers, music, dress and jewelry, speeches, etc.
- Any special instructions or notes for loved ones
- Anything additional you want to add
A will is not for you, really, but your family and close loved ones. It exists to help them cope with everything they are going through because of your death. Writing a will is the most responsible thing you can do for yourself and your family when you are alive. It will eliminate nearly 90% of all issues and concerns and likely prevent any legal battles between family members. It is not unreasonable to believe that families have been broken up and even turned to violence because of unsettled issues over someone who never left a will. Wars have certainly been started in human history because there was no will of the king left to his successors.
Why don’t more people write wills? It is not because they do not want to write a will or do not have the time for it, but because they think it costs a lot of money. There are lawyers who specialize in will writing and will charge a fee, though you can find lawyers or sign up for lawyer services who might do it for free or otherwise charge a minimal fee. There are also websites on the Internet that help you write your will for free and without any catches, such as doyourownwill.com. All you have to do is spend the 20 minutes writing your will, save the files, put them somewhere that a trusted friend knows about, or even print them out and leave them in a fairly noticeable area, such as a desk drawer. Doyourownwill.com covers all sorts of topics including a living will, which lets people know what you want done with your body, should you fall into a coma or become unresponsive and unable to make sound decisions.
Writing my own will was not easy and probably one of the hardest things to do. At times, it felt uncomfortable, but I kept knowing that this is the reality of life. As I was doing it, I could see myself lying in a casket, with family surrounding me, and friends from afar waiting for the reality to set in, knowing that I would never be alive again, and that they too, would have to face this one day as well. I encourage you and even challenge you to take 20 minutes out of your life, even if you have to shed a few tears at the reality of death while writing it, and just write it. Get it written out and get it done with. If anything changes in your life, you can always go back and change it. You can change it everyday, every month, every year, or whenever you want. Just get it written once and on some kind of hard copy, or at least a digital copy that your family members who will be handling your death know about. It is always best to print out a hard copy, take it to the bank, and get it notarized for a few dollars so it will be legally authentic and without question. No lawyer necessary, no hefty fees, no tricks. Just another way for you to get your shit together.
After you are done writing it, encourage others to write their own wills. Get your parents to write theirs! Get your spouse to write theirs! Get your siblings to write theirs! Get your children to write theirs! You can even get your friends to write theirs too! There is nothing wrong with writing a will. It does not mean you are dead. It just means you are taking responsibility over your life and your death. Donate to doyourownwill.com to keep the site going and thank them for helping you not pay a fortune to a lawyer. Not that I’m not telling you not to go to any lawyer, but if you prefer not to, you can at least donate to their cause for goodwill. I am not associated or partnered with doyourownwill.com in any way, but they were the website that popped up when I googled, “write your own will” and they are the website I ended up using.
Death is a serious matter and one that we all face. I once believed I was immortal, but my friends around me showed me otherwise, for they are no longer alive. Many of them died too young. I can only hope that more of them die old. But reality is that they will all die someday. My parents, bless their souls, are still alive. My siblings, bless their souls, are still alive. My spouse, bless her soul, is still alive. However, someday, I know none of them will be, and neither will I, for when we finally accept the truth and terms of death, we understand that the acceptance of death is the only way to have peace in our minds; for it is death that truly makes us appreciate life.