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Wills and Trusts: What are your plans?

Guestpost by Beretta Fleur on Mar 5th

To my husband, I leave my My Little Pony, oh and don't forget to water my plants. My Little Pony © by kaktuslampan, used under Creative Commons license.

Call me morbid, but since age six, I've had a living will or last will and testament of sorts. I've changed it over the years (pretty sure Husband wouldn't want my Moondancer My Little Pony and would instead want to know what to do with my 401k). But I now know to make it a legally binding document. I just don't want to ever leave my family with (what I would assume would be) not only the grief over losing me, but also what to do with all my crap. Or whether or not I would "want" them to keep me alive. Or how to close out my email accounts. Or how long they should leave my Facebook page up. Or who to absolutely (or absolutely not) contact about the funeral.

If this is something that weights on your mind, I would recommend meeting with a lawyer or researching which documents would work best for you in your situation, as well as under your local or federal laws. This page on Legal Zoom, has information and comparisons regarding wills, living wills, and trusts to get you started.

I am by no means a legal expert, but here are points I've deemed as important to include in my will:

  1. If I want life support treatment or not (often called a DNR) if I should suffer brain or head trauma, am in a coma, am in an "end-stage condition" (such as with cancer) or can otherwise be declared "brain dead." (I also have been advised that this needs to be specific, as in do I consider breathing machines, medications, tube feeding, etc. to be life support.)
  2. Who is to be determined my "health care proxy" should I become incapacitated but still technically more "alive" than what would necessitate life support.
  3. What is to be done with my remains (full medical donation/organ donation/burial/cremation, etc).
  4. Who is to be named legal caretaker of my pets.
  5. Who to contact as friends and family and their emails, addresses, and/or phone numbers for funeral or memorial services.
  6. Any wishes I may have for the type of service I would prefer (I want a rowdy wake, not a somber Funeral Home affair)
  7. Where all my financial assets are and who has power of attorney over my "estate."
  8. A letter to my partner, along with last parting words to loved ones and a general reading at my services.

Lastly, I've made sure my family knows this information exists and where to find it should anything happen to me.

What about you? What are your feelings, experiences regarding final wishes, wills, or trusts?

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About Beretta Fleur

Beretta Fleur is a writer and graphic designer living in Los Angeles. She cooks, models, paints, and shoots sporting clays. Her book, Hosting With Style: Beretta Fleur's Guide to Parties and Homemaking, will be available Fall 2012.