Ok, yes I love sitcoms—refer to my “Modern Family” blog last year—especially a show that closely mirrors my life. I am very thankful for modern technology and DVR. Number one, I never watch anything in real time, unless of course it is on Sprout or DisneyXD. Number two, I can make my television time efficient, skip commercials and accomplish something else at the same time (i.e. write my blog, fold laundry, read a book—yes read a book). So I snuggled in last night for some laundry folding and “The Middle”, a show about a working, married couple with three kids. Now my kids aren’t quite the age of Axl, Sue and Brick, but I get to laugh at a glimpse of my future life with three kids (boy, girl, boy—just like my family).
I am sure people find after they have worked in a particular industry for a period of time they have a different point of view of certain things. My husband will tell you working for an estate planning law firm for over 12 years has warped my perspective of many things, and he means it with much love (I think?).
“The Middle”—opens with the family driving home from a beloved aunts funeral having, what I think of as normal “Midwest”, talk after a funeral (I should know born and raised in Missouri): it was a lovely service, Aunt Ginny looked good, I never saw her without her glasses, ect. The talk quickly switches to the oldest son, Axl saying he will have his head frozen when he dies, daughter, Sue, freaking out about it, the parents discussing their will. Dad/husband Mike says, “We scribbled our Will on a napkin, and you kids will go live with your mom’s sister if we die” Mom/Wife, Frankie, says “I thought we bought a Johnny Cochran Make-a-Will kit?” Daughter, Sue, freaks again out “we shouldn’t talk about this”, oldest son call dibs on the dresser. The show continues with Frankie talking about how exhausted she is with dealing with the estate doing things like filing the death certificate.
I am sure most people watching this episode got a good chuckle and went on with their life, but it really made me think about the good, bad and ugly of these scenes in regular, real life. All too often we hear “well of course our family knows Aunt Betsy will be guardian of our children.” “Yes my family knows my burial wishes.” “Yes I knew my brother wanted that dresser, but I want it too and my parents didn’t write down who gets what, why should he get it?” or “No we didn’t discuss what would happen when my parent died” and of course “It is a lot of work being trustee/executor of this estate”.
Make sure your family and friends truly know your wishes. Sit down with your children—especially your adult children—and have a conversation about your wishes when you pass. Most importantly, put everything in writing by visiting your estate planning attorney and discussing the most appropriate estate planning tools for your situation, whether it be a will or a living trust and do not forget your health care directive. Give yourself peace of mind by putting these documents in place, and save your family the extra grief of figuring out what you would have wanted—or even worse fighting about what they think you would have wanted.
For those of you in the Bay Area our office offers a complimentary thirty minute consultation with one of our attorneys to discuss your personal situation and the best estate planning strategy for you. Visit our website www.falkandcornell.com or call our office at (650) 463-1550 to request a free consultation.