Thursday, February 27, 2014

In which we discover that Isabel did not leave a will

This is the part that bothers me: I am speaking ill of the dead. Yes, Isabel died a few days after I wrote the post about her being in a non-responsive state. Primo didn't get to talk to her, but he talked to the girls and we had visited them just the month before Isabel died. He is going to the memorial service next week.

Isabel did not deserve a long, painful illness that ended in death. She was not a bad person. She was, however, a disorganized one. Is it bad to talk about something that a dead person did or did not do? I wished no ill for Isabel , for her own sake and that of Primo's stepdaughters. And I would never want to hurt them.

But I want to talk about leaving a will.

It is wrong to leave an estate and not have a will. It is wrong to leave a mess for your children to clean.


Primo thinks I am nuts because I have had a will since I was 25. Maybe I am a little worst case scenario-y, but I have never been harmed by planning for the worst case scenario. I would rather be overprepared than underprepared.

The wife of a co-worker died years ago. My entire office went to the funeral. After the funeral, my boss mused that his father had shown him his will and his funeral arrangements. My boss thought it was macabre, but I thought it was one of the best things a parent could do for his adult children.

"Do you know how much stress and hassle he has saved you?" I asked.

When my former boyfriend's mother died, he was shocked to find that not only had she arranged her funeral, she had bid it out. She had purchased the plot, arranged the funeral, and left cash to pay for death certificates.

My mom has had a will for years. I have a copy of it. I am a signator on her safe-deposit box and I have a key. I am also a joint account holder on her checking and savings - if she dies, I will have immediate access to her money for funeral expenses, etc. She already has a plot - got it when my dad died.

I have watched my friends settle their parents' estates. Even with a will, it's a huge pain in the neck.

Apparently, Isabel's friends had encouraged her - repeatedly and with very strong language - to get her affairs in order. She refused. Primo says that's just how she was - if she didn't acknowledge something, it didn't exist.

I can't imagine how scary it must have been knowing you had a disease that was probably going to kill you. I can understand why she wouldn't want to do the hard things. It's hard enough to do these things without death staring at your face. But I am angry that now, Laura and Kate are going to have to go through even more work than they would otherwise have had to do to settle the estate. It's not fair to them. I wish Isabel had thought of her daughters more than she worried about her own discomfort.

PS She also would not make any decisions about her end of life care, telling the doctors that her daughters could decide. And the day after she died, the hospital called the girls to ask where they should send the body. "What do you mean?" they asked.

"Did your mom make any arrangements with a funeral home?"

Well of course she hadn't. So Laura and Kate had to scramble to find a funeral home.

Do not do this to your family. We are all going to die. It's just a matter of timing.