My father died almost 11 years ago. I can’t actually believe it was so long ago although it feels like a lifetime ago when I think about all the things he has missed. Birthdays, Christmases, graduations, boyfriends, an engagement, my wedding, the birth of my son, that time I nearly died… the list goes on and on. There are tonnes of small things too.
I think perhaps the conversations are the hardest to live without. When you think, I wonder what my dad would suggest but then you can’t ask him so instead you just have to have the conversation with yourself and imagine what he’d say. It’s just not the same.
No one wants to talk about this but everyone SHOULD
If I’m perfectly honest though, I have to say that my father dying taught me a HUGE lesson in responsibly handling your estate. And when I mean estate I mean your assets, your wealth, the things you own.
Even if that is hardly anything, or nothing at all – my dad dying taught me that you need to have a will and it needs to be a professional will that clearly outlines your wishes. Oh and another thing he taught me, make sure your loved ones know where to find that will or else your wishes may be ignored.
Why is that important?
Well, we only found my dad’s will a week after he died. He had left it in the safe at work. After his funeral, his partners thought to open up the document marked “confidential” and lo and behold, there was this mystical will we had been hunting the country for.
And you know what sucked?
Reading that my dad had wanted his organs donated! WHAT THE HELL DAD? Could you not have given us a heads up BEFORE you got cremated? So now I live with the guilt of not being able to fulfil his wishes.
Why am I telling you this all now?
Like I said, it has been almost 11 years since my dad died. The last decade without him has been really tough. What sucks though is that I’ve recently been asked to appear at a meeting (in Swaziland) to discuss my dads estate. Now when your father has been dead for a decade, this is not something that you expect to happen.
Turns out, my dad, wonderful as he was, didn’t finalise some legal things about his property and now there are complications that have arisen as a result. I am really stressed out about it and I’m pretty frustrated by it too. I honestly don’t want to deal with it at this point in my life but it’s kinda a big deal.
Don’t leave things till tomorrow
If I know one thing about life, it’s that it ends without a moments notice. One day you’re out having a good time and the next day your family are burying you. Not everyone is lucky enough to have time before they die peacefully in their sleep at 96. Nope, most of us just die one day without warning.
Do things today, do the things that make you happy yes but also do the boring admin stuff so that your family are protected. So that there is no confusion when you die. Write a will, register it somewhere or give it to your family lawyer and TELL EVERYONE that needs to know where they can find it if something happens to you. Make things as simple as possible for the people you love to honour your last wishes.
Life can be so complicated but there are some things that don’t need to be! One of the first things I did as an adult was create a will and I know that when I die, my family will know what my wishes are. I also tell ANYONE who will listen that I’m a registered organ donor because I’m going to be cremated and I definitely won’t be needing any organs for that so I don’t want them wasted. They could save a life.
Important things to do right now
- Create a will
- Put it somewhere safe
- Make sure your beneficiaries/ executor knows where to find it
- Make your wishes about the disposal of your body known BEFORE it’s too late
- Appoint a reliable and competent executor – make sure that person is a professional rather than just a family member you trust.
- Remember that if you leave everything to a minor, their care taker will have to apply for money from the state – create a trust that is managed by your child’s caretaker!
The really good news is that this week (12 – 16 September) is National Wills Week and you can get your will done by an attorney for FREE!!
So when you’re done reading this, ask yourself if your affairs are in order and if your loved ones/ beneficiaries know where to find the information. Having it hidden away in your attic for someone to discover in 20 years time doesn’t help even if you do have a will.