I found this link today while reading JD’s blog, getrichslowly. It was a mention of a will writing kit from Suze Orman. Of course, now I am doing the research. The kit is like $14 plus shipping and it apparently does it all. The problem is that we wanted to make sure everything was done correctly and legally. Now I am really being stuck with a bad case of buyer’s remorse. But part of the problem of partnering is accepting the other person’s way of doing things.
Say you decide to implement a budget. The first step for the two of you is to sit down separately and list out what your income is versus what your expenditures are. Seems simple on the surface but when I sat down to do it I ran head first into my own spending habits. I have a tendency to give in to my partner’s needs on the little things and in the short term. This means that sometimes I have to borrow from my savings in order to do something that she wants. The problem comes from the fact that for the most part I keep these financial manipulations from her. I like to keep an even keel in my relationship to money and a life time of ups and downs has basically taught me how to stay calm while using my credit or savings. She, on the other hand, is a worrier. Her rule of thumb being if I worry about everything then for sure something will go wrong and I’ll be proved right to have worried about it.
Another thing about partnering is that between the two of you there might be a disparity of needs. Take this will thing. I have always travelled light. I like to think that I need very little beside a good book to read, paper to write on (or a blog), and my bike. My other material possessions are personal. I have a will. It’s very simple. Whatever is left goes to T. She is already my selected survivor on my checking and saving accounts. We hold title to our car jointly. The rest of what I own, books, writings, music, and art will go to her. Their monetary value is small. Everything else in our partnership, the corp, the real estate, the vehicles, are already in her name.
She has a will, too. We purchased a blank pre-formatted one from a stationary store and went over all the details of naming her survivors, and determining who gets what from her personal and business interests. It was a straight forward listing that we then notarized and she mailed to herself.
But, yes but, nothing is ever that simple. There are other considerations. As I mentioned in a previous post, T recently became much more conscious of the what ifs. What if she became incapacitate, what if all of her estate had to go through probate, what if …? So even though we had already set up a whole life insurance policy and she had survived her recent surgery, it still seemed like it was time to take care of the other contingencies by setting up a durable power of attorney and nomination of conservator, a living trust, and a medical power of attorney. And here is where those difference between partners came up again.
I consider myself self-sufficient. If I need to figure something out, I know how to do it and usually I feel comfortable with the decisions I reach. T, on the other hand, likes to vet her decisions through others. For instance, she could go online and find out just about anything she needs for investing. She is in fact quite well-versed in charting stocks, and in handling her own portfolio. Yet, every year we spend a couple thousand dollars attending workshops and seminars that teach the very things she already does well. It’s just that she needs the confirmation that comes from seeing that someone successful, more successful, has done what she does. So when it came to a will that worked and that she would have confidence in, we couldn’t just go to the shelf.