Alaskan Artist - Elise Tomlinson
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04/17/2006: "A Will of One's Own"

My dad and I were talking Saturday night and I realized that I have more assets than I realized. There is my house and even though Ive only paid off a few thousand from the loan, its value has appreciated. Also there is my retirement account, life insurance policy, my art business etc. Im worth more dead than alive.

I thought it would be easy to whip out a will, I have access to a database of free legal forms so I pulled up the Last Will and Testament form for Alaska and started filling it outits a lot tougher than I thought it would be. I have 4 sisters and friends who are like family. How do you divvy things up without hurting any feelings? Do you make decisions based on equal shares or give the most to those with the most financial need? How do you decide on an executor? Do I want to be buried in my family plot (which is probably what my dad would want) or could I be cremated and have my ashes spread somewhere here in Alaska?

Grim thoughts for a grey Monday night but I really should have something in place. Ive written out my final blog post even. Ive left it (along with instructions on how to post it) on the back of my computer monitor. There is a company that will do that for you by the way. I'm not one of those people who believe that dying young only happens to other people.

We say that the hour of death cannot be forecast. But when we say this, we imagine that the hour is placed in an obscure and distant future. It never occurs to us that it has any connection with the day already begun, or that death could arrive this same afternoon - this afternoon which is so certain, and which has every hour filled in advance. Final Destination

Replies: 9 Comments

on Tuesday, April 18th, Kasia said

Sounds so...dark. Although it is a part of life, isn't it?
How was your Easter?

on Tuesday, April 18th, Daniel said

I'm fortunate in that my wife agrees that the kids cannot be raised in the vicinity of either of our parents, if for no other reason than they have no concept of the importance of art and culture in providing a rich DAILY life. That said... my greatest fear has always been that if something happened to me, my wife would eventually remarry some jackass that didn't respect my artwork and would make comments in that vein to my children, just because he was too F**KEN ignorant to take the time to understand it. But she has assured me that won't happen.....

As far as long-term plans, my wife knows how to keep track of the provenance of my work and teach the children likewise. Everything else is just material and really has no significant meaning to me.

on Tuesday, April 18th, Elise said

Not so dark really, for whatever reason I'm not afraid to die...I just don't want to be aware of the fact ahead of time. Anything that comes along by suprise is A-OKAY with me!

I guess it's just a topic that not many people feel comfortable with, so things that should be said or done go unsaid, undone, as if that will hold off the inevitable. I would rather be prepared.

Oh, and I had a lovely Easter, in that I stayed home and painted all day long.

And Daniel, I can see how that would be a horrible fear, but your wife sounds smart, you need to have enough faith in her to realize she has better taste than to marry a bozo like that!

I suppose in some ways making out a will is easier when you have a spouse and/or children, as you just leave everything to them.

I told my dad my only great wish after I die is that someone take both my cats so they don't have to be separated. They are such good buddies that would break their furry little hearts.

on Tuesday, April 18th, Jackie said

E: The first law firm I worked at was a general practice firm. One of the last projects I did there was to make a database of all the wills so the attorney could contact his clients to update their wills to reflect the ever-changing laws. It is important to have a will whether you are single or married. There is probate, which dictates how your property will be allotted by the State to your family, but the State also gets a big chunk of your estate that way. Those forms may seem attractive because they are free/cheap. But it's really best to consult an attorney. A simple will is usually a flat rate, somewhere around $200-300 bucks. The attorney will also make sure a copy of your will is kept in a safe place - the courthouse in Kodiak was the official storage place. Your attorney may also have some guidance documents to assist you in speaking with family members and any 'guardians' you may appoint for your kitties. BTW: I don't think it's at all morbid to talk about estate planning - rather, it's practical. I got my mom her will for a gift when I worked at the law firm in Kodiak. They gave me a discount! :)

on Tuesday, April 18th, Elise said

Thanks for the advice Jackie. I don't really have an attorney or anything...maybe I'll do the free form for now (it is specific to the state of Alaska and *very* in depth...comes from a pay database trial through the Alaska State Library) as I don't have $200-300 dollars but I will plan
to do that in the future when/if I can afford it (damn oil prices!).

That was a great gift for your mom by the way! My dad wants to bring up his will at times but it makes me too depressed to think about.

on Tuesday, April 18th, Rob Roys said

I will take your cats. I have been missing mine (they died...liver/kidney failure).

Faulkner Banfield 586-2210 is good for estate law. The Atty that handles wills is one of the best in Alaska.

have a special box with all kinds of kinky, freaky, nasty photos and journals for posterity. Let 'em think I am more interesting than I am.

on Tuesday, April 18th, Elise said

Hey, thanks for the offer Rob!

I'll have to start a box of my own, what a great idea.

on Thursday, April 20th,">Jackie said

E: Today our office sponsored a brown bag for employees on Wills and Trusts. The attorney who gave the talk stunned me by saying there were several really good software programs out there to DRAFT YOUR OWN WILLS!! Of course, the caveat was that if you have a complicated estate, want a trust, or have kids, you should consult an attorney. So sounds like those form wills are just fine n' dandy for lots of folks! Of course, it's a bit more complicated for me and my partner - so we will have to shell out some bucks someday soon! I had a will before, but now that my 'marital status' has changed, it's no good anymore! :crazy:

on Thursday, April 20th, Elise said

Hey Jackie, thanks for letting me know! Hopefully someday soon you will be able to marry (if you so choose) whomever you please and not need to hire expensive attorneys because of discrimination and the stupidity of others!