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Writing a Will

A cold front swept through Houston when Mr. BFS and I left for our cruise.  My mother-in-law, who pet-sits our two dogs at her house when we are out of town, wanted to warn our roommates about the freeze.  But she realized that she didn’t have their contact info.  Luckily, she had the email of our other friend, who gave her our roommates’ phone number.  They appreciated the call and were already running the water to protect the pipes (which were well-wrapped by the builders in late 2012).

No issue this time, but I was reminded that our parents need our friends’ contact info and vice versa.  So I went to work and created an emergency contact list for everybody and wrote out a will for Mr. BFS and me just in case.

Emergency Contact Sheet

This was pretty simple.  Type up a sheet of the contact info for your closest friends and family.  If there is an emergency, the people on this sheet can reach each other and spread the word.  I included each set of our parents and a handful of close friends.  Between that group of 7-8 people, they could reach everyone we know one way or another.

Once the sheet was done, I emailed it to everyone that was on it.  They all confirmed that they had it and would keep it around in case of emergency.  Easy.

Our Will

We don’t have kids and are still pretty young ourselves, so I did not get a legal will done with a lawyer.  But just in case the worst happens, I did type up a will for Mr. BFS and me.  I wanted to make it a little easier just to give a heads up to our loved ones if we do die at the same time. I did some quick research online and decided to include:

  • A named executor of our will.
  • Quick section on what to do with our remains.
  • A small section that simply states that if one of us dies, the other one gets everything.
  • A list of assets including our homes, cars, saving and checking accounts, stocks, life insurance policies, and retirement accounts.
  • A section explaining what to give away and what to liquidate.
  • A few sentences about where our pets will go.
  • Who to pay with the remaining cash assets.

Over the next week, I’ll be looking up all of the account numbers to include in the blanks that I left when I didn’t know it off the top of my head. Then we’ll both read and sign it.  We’ll let our parents know where we are keeping it just in case.

I truly hope we’ll never have to use this.  I sincerely doubt that we will.  But it is a good idea to have a little plan in place just in case.  A will is an easy way to let your wishes be known.

Do you have a will?  Did I forget anything?

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11 comments to Writing a Will

  • What you’re describing is a will rather than a living will. A living will is for making your wishes known regarding life prolonging treatment. Basically, if you’re in a coma it would let people know whether you want to keep living or have them pull the plug.

  • @Andy, thanks! Made the changes so it should be correct now. :-)

  • MIkeS

    My wife and I have done the formal will thing with the kids. But, I’ve also created an “emergency document”, for my wife or anyone else. Since I maintain all the finances, I’m the only one who knows where everything is and how to get to it. So, I created a similar document to yours that outlines all financial accounts, credit cards, bank accounts, brokerage and life insurance policies. Hopefully it makes it easier for someone to take care of my affairs after I’m gone.

  • MomofTwoPreciousGirls

    Get your signatures notarized if you’re not using an attorney. It makes it harder for someone to fight it or claim the signatures are not authentic.

  • I’ve done a lot of thinking about stuff like this in the past year, and it’s on my list of things to accomplish in 2014. A real, legal living will is the most important. If the worst should happen and I am in a vegetative state, I don’t want a hospital keeping me alive against my will, which is what would happen without the right paperwork. Scary thought!

  • Insurance proceeds are paid directly to the beneficiary so it is important to keep beneficiary info updated. Thanks for the reminder, I need to update my will!

  • Once complete, pay the fee and record the will with the Recorder of Deeds or Register of Wills in your county. Give the executor a copy and keep copies in your safety deposit box. Having the will recorded is one step in avoiding a probate court appoint an executor – which can happen even with a will.

    Any will can be broken, and not all wills stand, depending on the state you live in.

    True story that happened to my MIL: her mother married her second husband and they bought a house. Second husband had no family and no children, and my MIL was told many times by her mother and step-father that when they passed, everything they owned would be left to her. A will was written up that stated the same thing. MIL’s mother passed away first, MIL’s step-father continued to live in their house with all of their belongings. He rewrote his will to leave everything to my MIL at his passing.

    Fast forward a couple of years, and the step-father remarried. A few years later, the step-father passed. My MIL went to the home, met with his widow, asking for personal belongings of her mother’s and other things. She was refused any access to the house and refused any of the things she asked for.

    MIL hired an attorney to “uphold” the written will of her step-father. It was an exercise in futility and a waste of money. Based on the laws of the state, when he remarried all of his property became the property of his new wife, too, and the written will didn’t mean diddly squat.

    MIL finally received a cardboard box with a few trinkets in it that belonged to her mother, most broken from the way they were tossed into the box. That was all she got, and she only received that box through the “goodness of the heart of the widow of the step-father”. Case closed, and not one thing, legally, could be done by the MIL. The marriage and the fact the replacement wife was still living took precedence over the will written by the step-father and the wishes of his dead first wife.

    That will wasn’t worth the paper it was written on. The gold-digging waitress who saw and exploited the grieving widower made out like a bandit and the daughter that was supposed to get “everything” got a box of trash.

    Personally, I keep everything financial – copies of life insurance policies, copies of all statements of anything financial – MM funds, savings, bank accounts, retirement accounts, vehicle titles, POA’s, etc., etc., in a very large envelope in my office. A couple of key living relatives know where the envelope is, and the first thing seen when the envelope is opened is a multi-page, detailed letter I’ve written that lists every single thing owned, where to find it, how to cash it in, etc.

    On another note, I hold the Durable POA and handle all the finances of someone else. Age is certainly no guarantee of how long we are going to be around each day. In this case, because I am the DPOA for someone else and their life depends on how I handle their finances, I’ve taken steps to set up a tertiary that the POA will revert to if something happens to me and/or the second in command on the POA.

  • Beachgirl

    You should also check into whether your state requires witnesses and a notary for a will. Also, you might not want to include account numbers in the will itself. Most likely, when you die, the will becomes public record and then anyone would have access to your account numbers. It’d probably be better to have a separate paper listing account numbers and such that you keep with the will but isn’t part of the will itself.

  • @MikeS, I need to update my emergency sheet for my husband…I did one 3 years ago…

    @MomofTwo, we will eventually. For right now, there just aren’t enough people involved or money involved for anyone to contest anything (hopefully). We won’t be leaving a fortune yet. :-)

    @Zendelle, it is good to make what you would want obvious. Good luck!

    @Paul, our insurance policies will need to be updated if we have a kid for sure.

    @Wendy, that story is just soooo sad. I don’t know about Mr. BFS, but I won’t ever be married again. Even if he passes way before he should, I may find a life partner again, but another marriage would be just too confusing financially.

    @Beachgirl, great point about the account numbers. I’ll put those in a separate document.

  • Hi Crystal,

    This is Mama Squirrel from Dewey’s Treehouse. I am hosting the Festival of Frugality this week, but the submission form seems to be working only when it feels like it. This post would work really well with some of the others that I’ve rounded up–could I include it if you haven’t already submitted something? I’ll check back before posting it. And thanks in any case.

  • retired

    In Texas you and your husband need to write separate wills. A statement that neither will was written at the direction of the other spouse needs to be in there. Also need a special statement authorizing the executor to probate will without the need of an court appointed attorney. I forget the wording. Legally everytjing goes to the surviving spouse unless it was owned before the marriage or was inherited. Very hard to write a will that takes away from a spouse in a community property state. We joint own ,on the titles, all of our cars and property, so those things go to the surving owner. Insurance is paid to listed beneficiaries.
    There are legally correct wills available, along with living wills, and health care directives. We bought a kit off of Amazon years ago that was written for each state in the union. I wouldn’t use online sites, they keep the information and sale it. You will need at least to notarized witnesses. Most banks offer free notary services to their members.