Do You Need a Will?
In a word, yes. Virtually every adult needs a written will. How much more when someone is living with a lung cancer diagnosis? There are many reasons to have a will. Below are just a few.
Without A Will, the State Controls Who Gets What
I often hear stories about people who simply do not realize the value of their net worth. They work hard all their lives and—over their lifetime—accumulate a considerable amount of property, equity, and valuables. Even millionaires have significantly underestimated their net worth. Many passed away without having a last will and testament.
One of the problems with not having a will—or dying intestate—is that the state determines what happens to your property. Each state has different laws but the control is with the state, rather than the person who died or their loved ones. Having a will gives control of your estate to the person you name to manage it—usually known as an executor or executrix.
My father named me as the executor of his estate. It was a relatively small estate but there many heirs. I am the third of nine children, and my father had three adult stepchildren, one of who contested the will. For the most part, it worked out according to his wishes. Because my father named me his executor, he delegated me with authority to make financial decisions, sell property, and eventually, settle his estate, according to his wishes, rather than the government.
On the other hand, my children’s father died intestate. They had to second-guess what their dad would have wanted. My heart ached for them as they did their best to honor their father and manage his belongings.
Give Sentimental Gifts to Special People
As important as managing the distribution of valuables may be, having a will also ensures that sentimental belongings are given to the people you want them to go to. Who cares more about your photos than your loved ones? Sometimes the strangest item—like a sweatshirt or a pillow—may bring meaningful comfort to a loved one. I am not suggesting you will a sweatshirt to someone. However, consider your small treasures and include them in your will. Doing so can mean a lot to the person you name in your will to receive this special gift, whether it’s a pair of earrings, bedroom furniture, wall hanging or whatever has special meaning that you—as the giver—wish to impart to the receiver.
My former in-laws had a beautiful grandfather clock made by a family member. It held great sentimental value. It was well known that their daughter was intended to receive the clock after their deaths. However, a son from a previous marriage took the clock. The daughter valued her relationship with her stepbrother more than the clock or anything so she never spoke up. Nevertheless, to this day, it grieves my spirit that her parents’ wishes were not honored simply because they did not include that in the will.
Read Part 2 of Dusty's article here.
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