Homer's Travels: Will I Will Or Will I Won't?

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Will I Will Or Will I Won't?

Yesterday the Wife and I met with a lawyer and signed a bunch of papers - powers of attorney, and medical stuff in case one or both of us get hurt. The Wife also signed a will. I did not.

We'd been
talking about wills for quite a while. I've probably have been thinking about it for over a decade ... probably since we've been married 12 years ago. When it got time to decide how my estate would be spread around, I drew a blank ... a big zero ... total emptiness. Obviously, if I leave this world first I want my half to go to the Wife. I don't need a will for that. If the Wife goes first, her will covers her half. If we both go together, well, my half is kind of up in the air. It would go to my next of kin, many of whom I would never put on my list ... even the extended list. Besides a list of who I don't want to get my estate, I got nothing.

It's frustrating. On the one hand I'll be dead and won't give a damn what happens. On the other, should I care? The Wife thinks so. I know my indecision is irritating to her. Should I just pick some random charity and hope they don't waste it? Should I pick cousins I hardly know?

I don't know what do do.


  1. Get the will. I'll say it again: GET THE WILL.

    Here's why. Even if you just want everything to go to the wife, you need to make that clear. Don't leave it to the court to decide between her and every relative that suddenly shows up to make a claim. Spare her that stress. Once it's in writing, there are no arguments. In the other case, simply distribute it to close family or friends that you care about; leave them instructions on how you would like the money distributed or simply let them put it towards their kids college funds. Or, yes, bequeathing your estate to a charitable organization is a perfectly fine option.

    The basic idea is that if you don't have it in writing, anyone can put up a fight for it in court. Get the paperwork. Trust me, I've seen what happens when the paperwork isn't there...

  2. I'm too young to worry about such paperwork but I concur with GH. Better getting it done now that let her worry about it later.

  3. Godefrey: All our assets (house, cars, investments) are in both names so if I died, she'd really wouldn't have much of a hassle. The case that matters would be if we both die together and our executor would need to know what to do with my half.

  4. The charity of Dobegil would put it to good use!!! HAH!

    Seriously - get it in writing, like GH says.

    Nebraska is NOT a community property state like California is. So everything in writing, even if you go before the wife, then there is no question where your 1/2 is to go. So if the title to the house, doesn't specify "as joint tenants with rights of survivorship" ... your half could be in question and subject to whatever the person in charge of your estate decides.

    Most husband and wife titles are taken as joint tenants, however, if it is not specificied joint tenants AFTER the words husband and wife ... then it can be assumed title is each to 1/2 interest of the property. If either dies, it may not necessarily go to the surviving spouse ... their 1/2 will be dispersed according to their Will. If no will, then that 1/2 will go to probate.

    Dang, and I thought I forgot most of the escrow stuff!

  5. Dobegil: I will ... just give me some time.