Thursday, April 14, 2016

More Adulting

I don't feel like an adult all that often. I used to feel like an adult every time I paid for something with a credit card, but that novelty wore off pretty quickly.

I definitely did NOT feel like an adult the first time I wrote a check for a significant amount of money (when buying my car). I actually felt like throwing up because I'd never, ever spent that much money at once (and no, I didn't pay for cash for the whole thing!). But now I spent nearly the equivalent of that down payment on daycare every month, so writing checks doesn't make me feel like an adult either. Sometimes it still kind of makes me want to throw up, though. :)

I think I feel most like an adult when my children hand me their snot-filled, dirty kleenex. That's the mark of a mom, right? Taking other people's snot and cheerfully putting it in your pocket.

In the spirit of Serious Adulting, David and I have been getting estate planning documents organized. This has been a long, ongoing process. It started when I was pregnant with Eliza: We're expecting our first baby! Let's get all our finances organized and in order and make a will! I started investigating estate planning during my pregnancy, but after she died I lost all interest in that sort of planning.

When Zuzu was born, we talked about it again. And when Coco was born I was like, "Okay, but seriously we need to do this."

And then David's grandma died and he was dealing with her estate in a very real way. She was well-organized and everything was mostly accounted for, but there were still a couple of uncertainties about what she really intended or would have wished to happen, and we knew that we really needed to get a will or trust created so that in the event of our deaths, things aren't made more stressful or complicated for our children.

We originally thought we'd draw up a trust (that's what D's grandparents had), but after talking  extensively with an attorney about our options, we decided it was simpler and equally effective to create a will that would then stipulate the creation of a trust upon our deaths. This way we didn't have to change ownership of accounts or assets to the trust, but in the event of our deaths, all of our assets will automatically be held in the trust until the girls come of age.

(This is SO MUCH FUN to think about, by the way.)

Actually, even though it's not particularly pleasant to contemplate your own demise, I'm someone who likes to consider alternative scenarios and think about contingency plans, so I found it very satisfying to draw up Plan A, Plan B, and Plan C.

We had to think about guardians for our girls and trustees for our estate and also what we wanted to happen to our life insurance payout should all of us die together (that one was the hardest, obviously).

I researched a lot of different attorneys and solicited recommendations from friends and got a wide variety of prices quoted for drawing up these documents. In the end, we met with an attorney who went to law school (and high school) with the husband of a friend of mine. He met with us before quoting us a price and ended up giving us what I think was a really good deal because we're a young couple with not-very-many assets and we really just wanted to ensure that our daughters' futures are secure in the event that we're not here. He was extremely nice and appeared to be very competent. We just approved the drafts of the documents that he sent us, and we'll go back for the signing soon.

This has also made me (finally) get myself in gear in terms of gathering important information to keep in the fire-proof safe--bank and credit card information, birth and marriage certificates, insurance info, all that stuff that we had filed away but not gathered together in one spot.

I also wrote a letter with some information about specific wishes after death (memorial plans, cremation, who gets my jewelry, etc.). It reminded me a bit of when we had to write our own obituaries in high school and it felt very unreal, but it wasn't especially difficult. I think seeing David and his aunt dealing with his grandma's estate made me think a lot about what my wishes would be.

Anyway, none of this was particularly fun, but it is satisfying to have it done. I feel like a real adult, and like we finally accomplished something that wasn't easy to do.

Now I hope that I never have to think about it again, and I can go back to life feeling more like an overaged adolescent who is still trying to figure out when I became responsible enough to be in charge of grocery shopping and the welfare of two small children.

Have you drawn up estate planning documents? What was your impetus for doing so? Did you feel kind of smug and responsible when it was all finished? If you haven't, what's preventing you from getting it done? Did you also write a personal letter to your survivors telling them what poem you'd like read at your memorial service? What do you do with your engagement ring if you have more than one living daughter?


  1. We did a will, and all the necessary life planning documents when my oldest was a baby (he is 7 now.) This year we updated everything (moved to a new state 5 years ago) in regards to making sure everything is in order (this includes extra insurance, guardians etc.)

    Every time I have delivered nurses are blown away we have a will and POA and all that which they said most people don't have. So that always makes me feel like an adult!


  2. Being an adult is not a lot of fun a lot of the time.

    Not to throw a kink in anything, but just mentioning this since you asked the questions at the end: We had multiple people advise us that in this state it is better to set up the trust prior to your death, not to stipulate the creation of one in your will. This recommendation varies from state to state, and it sounds like you've thoroughly researched everything and are working with someone you trust. I only mention it because it was different from what we found. Things may have changed in the last several years too, but I think the issue at the time was the cost and length of time (6 mos, but more typically one year) it takes for the probate procedure - plus the burden of that being placed on the named representative of your estate. (Who are probably also newly appointed guardians, and dealing with that whole other issue and grief.) I'm guessing that you have an outline of exactly how this will proceed, so you can feel free to ignore this completely!

    It is not a fun process, so kudos and high fives to you for getting it done. Don't forget to check in every few years to make sure things are up to date, and reflect the changes in status of your appointed guardians, as grandparents age, or the health status or locations or life choices of siblings or friends change. Better yet - have your attorney schedule those check-ins with you so you don't have to REMEMBER it. I'm the worst at remembering things anymore.

    1. I went in thinking we absolutely needed a trust (especially since that's what we're familiar with), but after doing more research and talking through things with the attorney, we are fairly confident that this will be sufficient for what we need. I wish we could get it done and never think about it again, but I'm sure we'll be revisiting this as things change... Adulting.

    2. I didn't doubt you! And like Kel said above - you are definitely ahead of the masses on this. It's just so hard to fit all the adulting in sometimes. And then after you get it done, you're all "why the hell doesn't everyone do this? what are they thinking?" I'm guilty of doing that from the smug side of task completion. Then I smack myself. ;)

    3. Also, I meant to also answer the questions on the jewelry. I don't know how to answer that with two girls. I don't feel very strongly about it, but remember - I'm not so sentimental. ;)

      My MIL will frequently talk about passing down her jewelry to the girls, and I find it creepy.

  3. We haven't done this yet. Why? No clue. I do plan to write a letter seeing how I've always planned my funeral in my head (morbid much?) down to the music and who should/SHOULD NOT speak. With two girls, I don't know what we'll do about the rings (or my wedding dress).

    I remember thinking being an adult would be so much better than being a teenager. And then I started getting bills.

  4. I just did this last month, even the fireproof safe bit! It was easy for me as I'm one person with one child. I basically wanted to name a guardian and who would get my house if we both died together. Not fun but good to have done!

  5. The Army forced our hand at making a lot of these decisions (which I'm thankful for), but ironing out even more details that are not required prior to a deployment was something we started talking about more seriously after Daren was killed. Like with David's Grandma's death, most of it was straight forward, but there were a few questions of "how would he have wanted X handled."

    Miles wants "Spirit in the Sky" played at his service. I'm not sure what I want.

    The biggest thing I'm not sure of for me, and it's a biggie in regards to planning, is I don't know WHERE I'd want to be buried. I know I want to be cremated, but still have a plot somewhere with Cale's name next to mine. But if I die before Miles I just don't know where my plot/niche/whatever should be - Georgia because it's felt like home for a large part of our lives? Arizona because that's where I was born and raised? Whatever state we are living in at the time because it's convenient? Who knows!

    As far as the ring thing. . .My mom has her ring, her mother's ring, and her mother in law's diamond that was made into a necklace. My brother already got one of them (she wanted him to have it so if he wanted to propose with it he could and he did) and then my sister and I will get the other two "bigger" diamonds. So, should you inherit something you could divide it up evenly that way, or just make David buy you more jewelry so that it can all be fair ;)

    1. I think more jewelry is definitely the right answer.

      I wrote in my general wishes that I would want to be buried in my home town. In a way that feels weird, because I've been away longer than I lived there now, but so many of my family members are buried there that I think it makes the most sense. It still feels like "home," I guess. And in a way it doesn't matter, as long as Eliza's name is on my stone. Stick me anywhere.

  6. I have had drafts of these documents in my inbox for MONTHS and we haven't finalized anything yet. Time to get on it (and I'm a lawyer so there is NO excuse). Our impetus to get this done was my first pregnancy and loss and then the health scare that accompanied it... but its been 2 years so we really need to get our acts together.

    Along this vein, I saw this post today that provides some basics on what you need:

  7. I have two girls (and a boy). I also have my wedding set and a 5 year anniversary diamond band that I wear on my left hand. I also have my mom's set (died before I had children, so her ring isn't as important to them). However, I will split my wedding set and anniversary band between the girls and whoever didn't get my engagement ring can have my mom's. The boy is out of luck for rings. :)

    I wish we could decide on guardians for our kids. We think we have it settled and then something major happens that makes us backtrack. My oldest is 10. Not to burden her, but only one of us has to survive another 8 years.

  8. We did the estate-planning thing several years ago before taking a vacation without Eleanor. We do need to update though because we haven't touched it since having Henry. Choosing guardians was definitely the most difficult because no one is as awesome as us, obviously. Honestly, we're closer to a lot of our friends than our family (as are our kids), but we didn't feel we had any friends we could truly ask. I try not to think about what a jarring shift it would be for my kids to have to move a thousand miles right after losing their parents.

  9. My step sister is a lawyer and I still haven't done that stuff. I get hung up on the facts we do not actually have anything to bequeath to G and the one person I'd want to raise her is in medical school in fucking Australia. Damn her for not taking my child's needs into account in the event of my death while making her own life choices!!

  10. We talk about it all the time, but we haven't made any particular decisions or written anything down. Our parents have health issues that would prevent them from being able to take the kids - tho my mom would argue that point, I prefer that she's available to them as a grandmother, and not using the last of her years to exhaust herself chasing a preschooler. I need to talk with my first choices for guardianship, but... What if they say no?! I definitely want them to be honest and say if they don't feel comfortable doing it, but... Heck. And we have kind of a weird situation in that while we don't have a lot to bequeath to anyone (never had an engagement ring, and my wedding ring is s sterling silver Claddagh ring...) (Got married in Vegas, etc, lol) our source of income is a website that, properly maintained, could support our kids at least until the older two are old enough to possibly take over guardianship of the youngest, if necessary... But not sure who could maintain it! We need a lawyer.

    1. Hard decisions can be so paralyzing! I felt similarly about wanting my parents to have the opportunity to continue to be amazing and involved grandparents, without having the burden of raising tiny kids full time. It's an impossible choice, and hopefully it will NEVER matter who you chose.

      Also, the monetary value of your wedding ring doesn't matter--my mom's engagement ring was purchased when my dad was a poor college kid, and I'd still love to have it for all the sentimental reasons.

  11. Oh, add to that the older two have always been homeschooled. In what I'll call a very laid back, eclectic, child-led style. They would be mystified if they were thrown into a normal schooling environment. We've actually talked to them about that, how if anything happened to us, they would probably end up back in school. That being said, at their ages they could probably complete high school online fairly easily. You don't think about the worst case scenarios when you're a young mother going through your crunchy homeschooler phase... ;)

  12. Like you, we never really thought about estate planning, etc., until I got pregnant. I had actually asked a (corporate) lawyer friend for the name of someone who handled wills the very week I lost Katie, and like you, it didn't seem quite so urgent or important after that. We FINALLY got them done a few years ago, when we'd been married 25+ years. Better late than never, I guess...! Basically, the nephews split everything, although the lawyer said I could & should draw up an addendum list if there were small personal things I wanted to give to others. I still need to do that. I have some things that were my grandmother's that might mean more to my cousins' kids & grandkids than they would to the nephews, whose connection to me is strictly through dh.