Wills and Last Testaments


#1

Depressing topic, I know. :frowning:

Hubby and I need to write our wills. We postponed this long enough. Our financial planner recently warned us of what could happen to our family in the event that we both died without a will. It’s well past time that my husband and I do something about writing our will. I’ll start with Catholic Answers Family Life forum because you might let me procrastinate here under the guise of research.:wink:

When my parents passed away, my dad had all their financial papers and matters in perfect order. He’d organized all that years earlier, gave each of us a copy, and when they passed away their Living Trust and wills made everything very easy for us. I’d like to have things similarly in order for my children.

There’s so much to think about, especially in regards to who will care for our children. The question of who will care for our children is the biggest reason why we haven’t written a will yet. We’re still pondering what to do on that.

Does the question of who will care for your minor children give anyone else great difficulty? Did anyone you didn’t expect to ask you ever ask *you *to care for their children? What would you say if someone asked you to care for seven children?

So how about your wills? Have you written one? Any tips? Did you include any unusual or specific requests in your will?


#2

Gardens,

This is a topic where my first recommendation would be to use an attorney to draft up your will, living wills, and power of attorneys. When me and my wife (Nicole) had ours done, all of it came to $400. Now I know there are do it yourself kits out there, but this is your kid’s lives…you’ll want to be sure it’s done right. Also, our attorney pointed out possible scenarios that we hadn’t even thought of.

It should be noted that the person who cares for your kids (or couple- in Wisconsin you can delegate that duty to a couple) does not need to be the same as the one who manages the financial part of the estate. This could be a real advantage, for we split the duty because while my wife’s parents would be great to take care of the kids, they wouldn’t be the best with finances; my dad would do a much better job there.

Another consideration is how the assets will be held. In my will, if me and my wife die together a trust is created for the benefit of out kids. The trust will own the house and all of our other assets. While Nicole’s parents could live there for free to raise the kids, ultimately the kids will own the house when they turn of age to break the trust. We then purchased life insurance on ourselves with Nicole’s parents as the beneficiary so that they would have adequate funds to raise the kids (and compensate them a little for having to raise kids all over again!).

The question of who will care for our children was not difficult. The only other person I might have considered was my sister, but her husband is vehemitly anti-Catholic (in fact, at my daughter’s funeral, he stayed outside the church until he absolutely had to enter). While Nicole’s parents are not Catholic, they at least believe in Christ and that the Bible is the inerrant word of God. They also would respect our position of Catholic education.

I think someone close to you or an attorney who knows your full picture will be the best to guide you, but I wanted to share my experience so you could see some of the issues we had to face.

In my personal opinion, keep the funny stuff out of your will. If you have special requests, perhaps leave them in a letter to your children.

Oh, no one has asked us to take care of any children, much less 7. But if asked, I would (“whatever you do for the least of these little ones, you did for me…”).

Hope I was some help!

Andy


#3

We hired a lawyer specializing in estate planning to prepare wills, powers-of-attorney, and irrevocable trust documents. It cost $1,500 (ouch) in northern New Jersey, but hopefully, it’ll be less in your neck of the woods. I’m hoping the price will be well worth it with best laid plans from the tax-impact aspect of things. You may also want a Catholic Living Will type document for health care decisions, so no one can withhold IV food/water. That can be done without an attorney for free, well, maybe a couple of bucks for a notary public to witness it.

About the guardianship issue:
We have five children and counting and asked another couple to be guardians who have six children and counting, so boy, that would be a full house, huh?! But we’re putting enough life insurance proceeds into a trust fund, and we’re putting instructions in a “letter of instruction” (separate from the will/trust so we can more easily make changes, irrevocable trusts are…well, irrevocable) so that the family can hire a full-time housekeeper and take money from the trust to enlarge their home or buy a bigger one, with the money coming back to the trust when our last child is grown and out of the house. If the mother can’t homeschool all eleven plus (ha!) then Catholic school is listed as our next preferred option. All this is to make the arrangement even remotely feasible, and it’s put into the “letter of instruction” so that no one can accuse them of taking advantage of money from the kids’ trust.

These are suggestions you may want to consider to make it easier for anyone to even consider the big job of guardianship to seven children. But let the potential guardian not forget, the children won’t always be the young age they’re at now, and he/she the guardian won’t necessarily have all seven of them if some of them are grown and out of the house if/when you and your husband should pass away.


#4

Thank you Andy, that was tremendously helpful! :clapping:

Yes, I think we need to set up an appointment to speak with an attorney. My husband was going to call someone today to get a few recommendations. I checked out other information on-line about writing wills. While there’s stuff out there that would probably be better than nothing, but it seems best to have it done professionally.

Did you include your request for your children to have a Catholic education in your will? That is the kind of “peculiar request” I wondered about including that, as well as the request that my children not be separated if possible. I also wondered about writing in various future scenarios for choosing a guardian. Our oldest is almost of legal age (yes, we’ve put this off that long… :rolleyes:) He might even be capable of acting as guardian of his siblings in the not-so-distant future, while grandparents and other relatives might be too old or dead by the time our youngest graduates high school.

I like how you establish a trust for the whole family. I was thinking individual trusts for the children, but managing just one that will divide later seems simpler for the executor and solves the house question.

Thank you again. I better make a phone call to be sure we get those attorneys’ names and numbers.


#5

Yes. Of course, being our kids, no one else is truly qualified :wink: , but we were able to attain relative peace with the decision. Unfortunately, feelings were badly hurt (my sister was very disappointed that we didn’t choose her), but it’s not about other people’s feelings, it’s about my precious babies!

No, not yet, but being in our mid-20s, our peers all think we’re crazy for thinking about “this awful stuff” so early.

“I’d be honored! Thank you for trusting me so much.”

I would do it in a heartbeat, because I cannot imagine many other people would, and I would HATE to break up a family. If siblings lose both their parents, the last thing they need is to lose each other.

My husband and I will be drafting a formal will in the near future, I think. Simply having something typed up and saved on our computer isn’t going to be enough, I know.


#6

Ah! I like the letter of instruction idea. That makes sense. The relative that is our best choice if a guardian was needed today has her own children and only three bedrooms. We would want them to be able to buy or remodel to fit our family if they took in our children. While she is the best choice today, I think one of my older children may be better choices in the future. I’d love it if the children could live and grow up in our present home, minimizing the disruption to their lives instead of needing to move across the country right after our death. (That scenario reminds me of British children’s novels and Shirley Temple movies.)

And now I really am going to try to make that phone call…


#7

I haven’t read all of the other posts, but the first few gave excellent advice. I will go for the shock effect to hopefully motivate you. I UPDATED my will 2 and 1/2 weeks AFTER my husband DIED because of the mess that I was in the middle of facing because our wills were done before our children were born. Try grieving on top of sorting through a legal mess. I was 35 with a 5 yr old and a 2 yr old.


#8

Don’t allow this task to be a grim one. You & spouse are looking out for yourselves and your children. Chin up and do it and do it right.

Tip: Be sure to ask your lawyer for a will that’ll last for the longest amount of time - otherwise you might find yourself going back year after year to make costly changes. I’m just about due to take care of a revision after just 3 years.

Would I care for seven children if someone asked me to? Yes - in a heart beat.

Specific requests in my will? I’ve included very specific details of how I want my body taken care of upon death.


#9

:eek: How sad to have a legal mess in addition to the grief over your husband’s death. Thanks for sharing.


#10

Good tip! Thanks!


#11

You people are so kind! :slight_smile: I can’t imagine that too many people would accept such a challenge, but it’s very nice to read that some would.


#12

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.