She breaks down the necessity and importance of writing a will in this short but informative personal experience.
It was a dinner party, six couples. One of the guys, tall, a little beefy, maybe in his early fifties and agreeably sociable, explained that he worked in oil and gas on business development “And what do you do?” he asked. When I told him I speak to healthy people about end-of- life issues, I could see that look cross this face, the one that says, “Okay, I’m outta here.”
To his credit, he didn’t leave, and the desire to escape was replaced with a shadow of guilt. “You know, my wife and I have never gotten around to doing our wills. I suppose you think that’s bad.”
I don’t think it’s a good thing, but I’m more interested in educating than scolding.
“Don’t worry,” I explained. “You have a default will. When you die without a will of your own, it’s called dying intestate. Every state has provisions for intestate deaths. In effect, the state has a will already written for you, one with state regulations for how to handle estates like yours. This default will allows the state to decide how to distribute everything you own. If you have children who are still minors, the state will decide who is their guardian. The state is going to appoint an executor of your estate. It won’t be someone who knows you. Good chance it will be a friend of the judge. Your estate will pay the executor and pay for a bond on his or her behalf. You will pay the executor every time your estate needs to go to court, and that will be often. It will be expensive.”
Guilt was replace with shock. “Nobody quite explained it like that before…”
“Let me get you a glass of wine,” I said, “ and if you like, I can recommend a couple of very capable estate attorneys.”