6 Reasons Will and Estate Planning while Experiencing Inferitlity / RPL / Miscarriage is Super Weird
It is an interesting day when you go to an appointment with a psychologist and then stop by your lawyer’s office to sign your wills on the way home.
I’m going to skip the psychologist talk for today and jump right into signing your will when you are going through RPL / miscarriage / infertility.
So, most of us understand that the point of a will is to provide direction about what to do with your assets upon your individual death or the death of your spouse and possible children, should everyone die in a horrible tragedy together. Contemplating death scenarios. Fun times (sense the sarcasm).
But, what gets kinds fun is deciding who gets what, how things will be divided, and who has the power to make all the decisions (and deal with all the family fights) as the executor. Both money and physical items need to be accounted for, if you care about where they end up.
So, we’ve been working on getting our wills done for quite some time – like almost 2 years. We always seem to get distracted by a miscarriage, and it gets pushed to the back-burner. When we started our wills we just assumed innocently enough, that we would have kids, so we didn’t need to pay too much attention to what happens if we don’t have children or if we have adopted and/or biological children. So, today, we finally finalized and signed them. They are done. As my husband said – one more item off the bucket list (okay, so we may have an odd sense of humor).
What made this process incredibly interesting for us is:
- Our crazy families will likely fight about everything. We’ve learned this recently with the deaths of both of my husband’s grandparents last year. His parents and aunts and uncles are not coping well (biggest understatement of the century), and dealing with the estate has destroyed the family. So, we knew when it comes to us, we wanted to control the fighting and we needed to choose a very firm person to be the executor. This was a hard decision, but was a very calculated decision.
- The entire will is now written around “should there be children either natural born or legally adopted”. This is not something we expected to need to state. I always assumed that any child, whether adopted or not, would be considered your child. While this is true in the legal sense, it may not be true of extended family and this can lead to massive fights to cut people, presumably the adopted child, out of the inheritance. So, we were very explicit on this as to ensure there is no room for argument.
- Preparing our will has forced us to spend a lot of time contemplating how we want the remains of our children to be dealt with should we all die at the same time. Yet, at the same time we have quietly dealt with 4 dead babies who never took their first breathe. It is fascinating to be going through this process when you are supposed to imagine a future with your living child dying at the same time as you, yet we are quietly losing a living child who will never even made it that far. It’s weird to say the least.
- We also know while preparing our will, we have to have a contingency plan in place for the distribution of everything, should we never have children. Then what? Who gets the money after that? Who’s next in line? Its great fun contemplating our future without children verbally, but to actually put it in writing is almost surreal. But, it is a real possibility or us, so it needs to be done. 2 years ago, we really didn’t put too much thought into it, because we assumed we’d have kids and we were unlikely to both die before that would happen. So, we originally just said that it would just go to our niece and nephews who are alive at the time of our death. Funny, how writing our wills, made us face up to this new reality that we really may not have children. So, this entire section was re-written yesterday to be much clearer and was surprisingly complex to address. First, we needed to be clear that step-siblings, counted as equals – the original language was just too vague. So with our original wording, it meant that if we die tomorrow, that means our entire estate would just go to a limited number of nieces and nephews, and that didn’t make much sense and isn’t actually what we would want. This wasn’t what we really wanted, and so we had to acknowledge the reality that 3 of our 4 combined siblings are younger than us, and presumably will have kids eventually. We needed to be clear that we wished the money to go to our siblings children should they have any and not directly to our siblings since we firmly believe they should all be okay in life (i.e. they are doctors, engineers, etc. so finances shouldn’t be a problem). And if they didn’t have children, then the money would go to the parents, with the expressed wish that it be saved for future children. What mattered to us, was helping fund education and first house purchases, etc. That said, we also had to acknowledge that we would not be leaving money to one sibling who is battling addictions, as he is currently wasting every penny he has on his addictions, and unfortunately due to past inheritance, he has more money than the average kid in their twenties (we can change this in the future if he ever cleans up his act). But, if he has kids, then his kids would still count. It was an oddly super easy discussion for my husband and I, but interesting for the lawyer to work out on the spot.
- Deciding who we would request to take legal guardianship of our children, should we die and they live. This was one of our easiest decisions. We love the people we chose, and we know they would love our children as their own. Yet, again, there we were put into writing a plan for a future with kids, knowing that this may never be our future.
- As for material items, we are not materialistic at all. While we like nice things, we could care less about things in the sense that they do not hold meaning. Rather our memories do. So, we decided to let the family sort out the things, with one exception – our dog. We absolutely love our dog. She is a very important member of our family and even if she gets human siblings one day, she will always be our fur-child. We need to know that she is loved wherever she goes, and we picked the person who will ensure she lives a happy and safe life surrounded by unconditional love.
Anyways, as weird of a process as this has been for us, I’m glad we did it. I’m glad they are signed and they are finished. Something about acknowledging our future family, or not, in a written legal document was…cathartic…weird…surreal… I’m really not sure the right word. But, what I do know, is now, if we ever do have healthy living child(ren), then they will be taken care of. And if even if we don’t, at least they are done. We’ve done our best to limit family fighting. We’ve done our best to be fair. Hopefully, should we in fact die, our families will understand our decisions.