I Am Literally So Not Ready To Die!

A recent blog I posted was about how boomers are running out of time and now I want to talk about when we do. Estate planning and dying are not subjects we are always comfortable discussing  but ones that I have been putting off for far too long.

There are so many details to attend to.

At the risk of sounding morbid (which I suppose it is) baby boomers are now at the age when we should already have our death plan and estate issues settled and in place. Our wills should have now been written and updated. If we’re really proactive, we will have already purchased our plots and perhaps prepaid our funeral, or at least designated what’s to become of our ashes. Perhaps a few of us have already started distributing our assets to friends, charities, and family.

It’s not that I dread dying. We all do it eventually. What keeps me procrastinating on the estate issues is the decisions required. While I would like time to stand still, that is not going to happen. My husband and I have wills; we know we want to be cremated, and we roughly agree on the arrangements. The specific details have yet to be spelled out and put down on paper for our families to manage after we depart.

Even the simplest and most tightly written last instructions often come with questions and complications. Families frequently end up in power struggles about the distribution of the estate. Just ask any famous person or your cousin who ended up not speaking to his/her siblings after your aunt and uncle passed away. The process is fraught with hazards.

No one wants our old china, crystal, silverware and other treasures.

We have spent a lifetime accumulating our treasures, purchased with hard-earned money. We already know that no one wants our silverware, our crystal and china, our diningroom suite, or our cherished antiques. What about our jewelry, our clothing, and other flotsam and jetsom we have amassed over the decades? We should probably draw up itemized lists of who gets what, assuming anyone wants any of it. We’ll be gone by then so who cares?

When I retired, my employer gifted me with an expensive designer purse I’d had my eye on for some time. I carried around a picture of it for months with the intention of blowing my entire last paycheque on it. I was blown away by that retirement gift and still love the bag. I’ve often joked that I’d like my ashes to be interred in that purse, along with my husband and the ashes of the various dogs we’ve had over the years. I like that idea. And, the words on my tombstone would be a phrase suggested by my friend Terry: “She Finally Quit Complaining About Her Hair!”. I like that idea too.

We’re enjoying the retirement lifestyle we’ve earned and our various beneficiaries will enjoy the financial windfall we leave behind. But, the time has come to put our detailed final wishes down on paper. There may still be the usual disputes over intent but we’ll be resting in peace away from it all. Hopefully, no one will object to my ashes resting for eternity in a designer purse alongside those I love most—my husband and my pets. I also hope my final resting place for my ashes has WiFi so I can still download library books in the afterlife. I’ll be there for awhile and I don’t want to get bored.

One positive outcome of COVID has been the simplification of departure rituals. Traditional three-day visitation followed by a solemn funeral with everyone wearing black has been replaced by a simple notification of There Will Be No Service or a Celebration of Life at a catered venue, someone’s home, or a favourite hangout.

Planning and preparation can make life much easier for those left behind.

I still feel guilty and sad that my father was unable to get the veteran’s Legion funeral he so wanted and deserved because of COVID restrictions at the time of his passing in 2021. Joyful gatherings of friends and family have replaced grim, elaborate send-offs. The only ones weeping about this turn of events must be the funeral home operators.

Our written wills, living wills, and powers-of-attorney (there are various categories such as life, financial, health) should be reviewed and updated on a regular basis.

There’s still the question of what to do with all our accumulated crap while we’re still here. I dread the enormous purging job facing me in our basement. I am literally not prepared for the final send-off. I know. I know. It’s time to pull my finger out and ‘git ‘er done so we have engaged a legal firm that specializes in estate issues and started the ball rolling. What about you? Are you ready?

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Gail Czopka
Gail Czopka
1 month ago

Good read & reminder that I need to order some urns on line for our ashes. Everything else is in order. Just hope our executor hangs in to handle the process when the time comes.

1 month ago

This is definitely a subject that should be discussed. As a retired banker I saw plenty of messy estates, but one I dealt with was an elderly lady ( well she was to me when I was 40), was so well done I have never forgotten it. There was no room for debate with the family. She itemized everything including her cups and saucers. Her daughter later told me the bottom line was she treasured all of it, so do with what they may. I have more than a few friends who are totally estranged from their families due to… Read more »