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August is Make a Will Month The SeniorScape®

There’s still time!!!!

It’s never too late to begin. That is true about anything.

Even though there are only a few days remaining in the month of August, you can still begin the journey.

for making a Will. It may seem like an arduous task. It may seem like an unpleasant one.

The fact is, we all plan for uncertainty. If we drive a vehicle, we carry car insurance in the uncertain occurrence of an accident. I always have an umbrella in my car in the uncertainty of rain.

However, we often do not plan for the certainties of life, one of which is the ending of it.

I can tell you from personal experience, the ramifications of not doing so can be heartbreaking. I’ve never written or talked about the details of the situation surrounding my father’s passing as it pertains to a Will. It’s painful to write, but if sharing my experience sheds light on the situation for even one person, then it served an important purpose.

Here is my story.

A teenaged girl, age seventeen, was sitting on the front porch of her house on a warm spring evening the Monday before Father’s Day. She was engrossed reading The Godfather. That teenage girl was me.

I can still see what I was wearing: the yellow blouse, green skirt, and colorful sash. My father was sitting next to me, and everything was calm and peaceful until I heard what sounded like a loud roar. I looked over and saw my father slumped over in the chair next to me. He appeared to be sleeping, and I thought maybe that “roar” was a “snore.” But this was different. It was much louder, and there was only one, not like the incessant snoring I usually heard from my father when he was sleeping. I came to know it as what is called a “death rattle.”

In what seemed like forever but was really only a few minutes, there were sirens heading down the street. Firemen and policemen were standing on the porch over my father, who was now lying on the ground. They worked feverishly for almost an hour, but to me it seemed that in an instant, I was sitting next to a human being with no pulse. A human being that was no more . . . my father was gone. He was 60 years of age.

The tragedy continues.

My father was the youngest in his family, and I, the younger of 2 children by 7 years. My parents married at what would be considered later in life in the 1940’s. My father was 33, my mother 30. I was born the day after their 10th anniversary. All that to say, my father’s eldest sister had son’s that were twice my 17 years of age.

My cousins were accomplished attorneys and tax attorneys. Growing up, they were often at my house.

They adored my father and my mother.

However, everything changed that fateful night that my father unexpectedly took his last breath.

My cousins rushed to the house and began feverishly looking through every closet, nook and cranny for any sign of a will, safe deposit box keys, insurance policies, etc.

My mother and I, and a circle of close friends, were all still in shock. My father’s body lay on the living room sofa until the undertaker came to take him to the funeral home. That didn’t stop my cousins.

What did they find? Absolutely nothing. My father did not leave a Will. Like many people, he didn’t want to deal with the inevitable end of life’s journey. He was an accountant with his own business, yet he didn’t leave any indications about his intentions or desires.

The situation became more abysmal as time went on. My mother had been a full-time homemaker. As per my father’s wishes, she stopped working shortly after my parents married.

Thus, she was left without an income. My father believed in the words, “you can’t take it with you” so we lived what would likely be considered a comfortable middle-class life. We went on family vacations, went to the theatre, and restaurants. I went to camp and had piano, and art lessons. At this time there were no credit cards. Therefore, he likely spent what he earned so that we could enjoy life to the extent possible.

While I’m grateful for my father for affording me the opportunities to have the foundation that helped me become who I am today, he fell short in planning for any eventuality when he wouldn’t be with us and no longer be able to provide.

Back to the story from that night.

For a while, my cousin’s worked my father’s business, but then there were contentious conversations about who would get the money since they were doing the work but my mother had no income.

I can still hear the arguments while they were sitting around the dining room table. Eventually my mother had to sell my father’s business.

The entire situation from the night my father died to the day she sold the business was a nightmare. It broke the family apart. A house that was full of family became empty in that one night.

It’s not too late. If you haven’t done so, begin today by taking stock of what you have and who you’d like to have it in the event of your passing.

People often think of a Will in terms of wealth. It is actually nothing more than a legal document stating who will inherit your assts and belongings after your passing. It also includes the name of the person you will appoint be in charge of distributing the assets according to your wishes.

Your assets might include a favorite necklace, a set of collectible LPs, a relic from antiquity, a prized painting, a recipe book collection, anything that you or your family might consider as having sentimental value.

I would suggest that writing a Will can bring you and your family peace mind. If you outline your intentions in your Will, your family can avoid the conflicts and arguments that often arise in these situations. Everyone has their own interest and point of view of what they and what they think the person would have wanted based on their relationship. This is often the source of the conflict.

I’m not suggesting that what happened with my family will happen with yours. But these situations often bring out the worst and drudge up wounds that are beneath the surface.

You can contact any attorney for questions or assistance for creating your Will. There are also online resources to help you. They include: and Rocket Lawyer Will Template

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