Making Wills & Taking Names

Meaghan:Ester! We are doing the Friday Chat all by ourselves today. It is a new era.

Ester: Hello! Yes! Ladies Are Doin’ It For Themselves, amirite?

Meaghan: You are right. Okay so, why not get right down to it and talk about our own mortality?

Ester: That sounds terrific, Meaghan. How else could we spend this gorgeous sunny afternoon?

Meaghan: Ha! Exactly. So, you have a child.

Ester: And you’re about to have a child.

Meaghan: Either that or I have something TERRIBLY wrong with my abdomen. Ha. Okay, but one of the many to-do things in all these baby books is to MAKE A WILL. And while I certainly haven’t done it, I have thought a lot about it. And then I saw your 1 Thing last week was to get going on your own will. Have you made any progress?

Ester: I have encouraged other people to make wills (and living wills)! That’s progress. We have also consulted a lawyer — i.e., had lunch with my husband Ben’s friend, who does Trusts & Estates — and gotten her advice, which is an important step. Possible Actually Making The Will will be my 1 Thing for next week!

Meaghan: I have googled, “How to make a will.” Does that count?

Ester: Right, exactly. And yes! It kind of does. It’s a start. Because you will learn that it is pretty straightforward and simple. The harder part is actually making the decisions that go into the will.

Meaghan: Um YES. I think that might be where my block may be. Because while a will can, I guess, have anything you want in it, a lot of the recommended things, or the things I am hung up on, are like…funeral arrangements and who to give your children to! Ahhh.

Ester: INDEED. And I take one look at a question like that and run back to my Roku box to re-stream an old episode of “Veronica Mars.”

Meaghan: Hahahaha. Yeah Dustin and I tried to have a conversation about this, or had several over the course of the week. But we kept ending up crying at some restaurant, talking about whether we wanted our ashes scattered together, and who would die first.

Ester: Oh my god. That sounds awful. I’m so sorry for you and your waiter.

Meaghan: Ha. It was at the Meatball Shop. I guess I can blame pregnancy hormones.

Ester: Why not! I still blame pregnancy hormones for all bad decisions (and zits). But aren’t you a vegetarian?

Meaghan: Ester they have amazing veggie meatballs there. GO.

Ester: Hahahha okay! No problem. I’ve been a terrible vegetarian since pregnancy anyway because my iron levels have required frequent meat infusions. ANYWAY. Ben and I have also had a version of this conversation, though less soggy ones, thankfully. For one thing, we’re Jews, so cremation is out. Our corpses go straight to the ground and stay there until the Messiah comes.

Meaghan: Well, that is one less decision you have to make, I suppose.

Ester: Exactly! That’s what religion is good for. Relieving you of a tough decision here and there.

Meaghan: Plus, you don’t have to worry about hell, right?

Ester: Quite right! No hell. Lots of angst & guilt in this life but no flaming sulfurous pit afterwards. Not a bad trade.

Meaghan: Ha. Okay so your child will be raised without the threat of hellfire and brimstone, check. And if you and your husband both die at once (*touch wood*), did you decide who will get to, um, take care of her for the rest of her life? This is so dark! And so fraught. How do you choose?!

Ester: I know, seriously, it’s the worst. The only silver lining is that, if anyone is super offended or upset, we won’t be here to see it. But yes, we’ve basically decided. My mom is incredibly fit and active — as I mentioned, she hiked Everest earlier this year as a 67-year-old widow. But she’s still working full-time. Ben’s mom is retired and lives in the glorious socialist paradise that is Asheville, NC.

Meaghan: Well they both sound amazing. Dustin and I had this conversation, too. Both of our moms are fit and could support a kid and would be seemingly WILLING to do that (way too eager, probably), but then how do you choose between them?! I imagine they would each be devastated if they weren’t chosen. Or maybe they’d be too devastated by our simultaneous and untimely deaths? But also you never know when this could happen, so maybe it’s better to ask a sibling?

Ester: My feelings exactly. Ben’s mom and my mom both love their granddaughter and could offer her a terrific childhood, and so could Ben’s dad, for that matter, who’s remarried to a lovely woman who has raised two daughters of her own. But we cut the knot by deciding that a sibling might be the safest way to go. My older brother is married to a woman who looks like a Disney princess come to life. They’re young, healthy, happy, energetic, employed. They want to have kids.

Meaghan: That sounds like an ideal situation! All of our sisters are younger and less settled, so it’s hard to tell where they’d be in the future.

Ester: That is trickier. There’s a Carolyn Hax advice column today on that topic: a 29-year-old single woman is left the guardian of her 13-year-old nephew after an awful accident.

Meaghan: Wow! Yeah I feel like ideally it would be someone with a family of their own who lives nearby and etc etc. Though I guess ideally you and your partner do not die in a terrible accident :(

Ester: Right. The downside with my brother and SIL is that they live in Southern California, and do we really want our Brooklyn baby growing up an Angeleno? But you can’t have everything, because if we had everything, we would still be alive to raise her ourselves. The most important thing is that the poor child doesn’t end up like the orphans in The Series of Unfortunate Events, bouncing from one sub-par guardian to another. (Although those orphans are scrappy and awesome.)

Meaghan: You just made a dark thing even darker.

Ester: That’s my superpower.




11 Comments / Post A Comment

annabanana (#5,919)

My parents gave family friends of ours guardianship over the two of us in their will when we were younger, but they never told the friends. Fortunately both of my parents are still here, so it never came to that, but they always got a kick out of that family of five having to deal with two more, completely unexpected.

Aunt Scar (#5,377)

@drydenlane NOOOOO! That was a bad idea. People should know if they are possible guardians if something horrible happens.

If my sister and BIL die, their kids go to my spritely mom and I move in down the street. Only if my mom dies too or gets dementia do I get the kids.

Allison (#4,509)

I think my brother and I were going to go my mom’s oldest sister/husband if the worst happened. THANK GOD IT DIDN’T, but I knew that was going to be the case for whatever reason. (Do your wills now! Don’t wait to win the lawyer for one at your kid’s school’s fundraiser silent auction. Then you’ll have a curious 8 year old who wants in on the discussions)

Also: pets. Maybe figure out if any of your friends would want your dog/cat after you go if you know your family wouldn’t. So many dogs end up in shelters that way and they’re so sad and confused.

andnowlights (#2,902)

… I actually don’t know who my brother and I would have gone to had something happened to my parents. I know at some point there was a trust that would have been there to take care of me and my brother that my grandparents would have been the beneficiary of (or whatever) but I don’t think they were the ones that would have taken care of us. Man, I’m really glad nothing happened to my parents! For more reasons than one, obviously.

potatopotato (#5,255)

@andnowlights: Our parents gave me and my brother two different godparents: My brother was assigned to my aunt, who lived a mile down the street; I went to a post-college friend who bounced all over the place. The two women hate each other. That would have been fun to figure out.

readyornot (#816)

First of all, I LOVE that the chats have continued, and I really love the girls chat. Flashing back to Logan chats with non-editors!

On to the actual content: It’s funny, I used to have in the back of my mind that I’d have a house before needing a will. Just because they’re not always necessary without significant assets, and I guess I thought that would be the first one? But we have a pretty good nest egg and it still doesn’t make sense to buy a house, moreover it won’t make sense before we have a kid. So I guess it’s time?

Short postscript, Ester I have really been enjoying all your contributions, but oh the geographical shade you throw! Given the priorities you laid out in “best places to raise a family,” you’d think Los Angeles would be perfect for you. But maybe the strongest defense I can mount for Los Angeles is this: my New York city born-and-bred husband says it’s one of the best places to live in the country. Beaches, mountains, cultural and economic diversity, excellent produce, fantastic restaurants of all kinds, good art museums, world class symphony. And I haven’t even rubbed in the perfect weather allowing for year-round outdoor fun! There are more similarities across big cities than differences.

@readyornot This is undoubtedly true! Mostly am I being tongue-in-cheek when I disparage other regions of the country, but regardless I should be more careful. FWIW I know lots of people who consider LA paradise.

nutmeg (#1,383)

my parents only started thinking about a will when my brother was young and they went on a trip and realized on the plane that HOLY SHIT PLANES CRASH AND WE HAVE A BABY!!! We would’ve ended up with my mom’s sister, because there was no way we could go to any of my dad’s siblings and she was younger than my grandparents and already had kids and hopefully knew what to do with them.

Also, I really miss my mom this week! I have time off next week but not enough to see her and now I am kind of sad! I just talked to her at Easter but phone calls are nowhere near as good.

Karebot (#5,803)

We decided that our son would go to friends of ours with kids around his age and who want more (they know and have agreed). Our parents are too old and our sisters… well, there are some major ideological differences there. My family knows the arrangement, but we haven’t broached it with my in-laws. Awkward!

Thanks for the tip to make accommodations for pets! I assumed our dog would go to my mom but now I think it would be cruel to separate my orphaned child from his dog.

Other than that, we only own a nice TV and a new car, so I guess those are presents for our friends who are raising our kid? Give them some incentives?

Fear Biter (#981)

I have a much younger sibling – like 15 years younger – and he is pretty much my favorite person in the whole world. When I was in college (he was about 3 or 4) I found out that my parents’ will stipulated that my brother’s godparents would get custody of him and I was *livid*. I definitely had a few heated arguments with my dad about it.

Obviously their priority was making sure I finished college, and that my brother would be raised by someone who, you know, had an actual job and stuff, but none of that meant anything to me.

potatopotato (#5,255)

My friends who are trying to conceive — so who are really planning in advance — instead named a person who would be responsible for deciding who got their potential flipper babies *at the time they were horribly and unexpectedly orphaned.* This seems particularly wise, because who knows what people are going to be close to you and your kids 10 years after they’re born? So much can change!

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