The Way We Live, Sunday 28 November 2010: Make a will
Five months on and I’m still getting over the shock of the Catholic Church’s decision that pop songs can’t be played at funeral services. Not that I’m Catholic. I haven’t signed on the dotted line with any of God’s franchisees but I do like to keep my options open. And I’m a fan of pop. And, you know, if I wanted to have Yazz and Plastic Population’s delightfully optimistic “The Only Way Is Up” played during my service, it would be good to know it was possible.
Predictably, death has been on my mind of late. Not in a morbid sense. Okay, in a bit of a morbid sense. The thing is I’ve started worrying about what would happen if something happened to me. If I wasn’t around, who would warn Ava of the dangers of wearing shiny stockings? Who would introduce her to the adventures of Anne of Green Gables? Who would teach her how to make my famous Quiche Lorraine? Who would warn her to never date a boy who has Celine Dion on his iPod? How will she know that on Christmas Eve she have no choice but to head into the kitchen and cook up Brandy and Cinnamon Panacotta?
My sister-in-law is far more practical. She’s written down everything her husband would need to know: account names, codes, passwords, locations where things are kept. ARE YOU LISTENING BURGLARS? Very sensible. I should do that. Alas, I probably won’t.
It’s staggering to think around 58% of Australians don’t have a will. Me included. What. Are. We. Thinking? Because if you don’t have a will, what you leave behind is a mess for your family. Even if you don’t own much stuff. Even if your most valuable possession is your homemade A-Z of Kylie Minogue on cassette. Doesn’t matter. Someone is going to take ownership of those cassettes and your bank accounts. And with no will it can take months and months to sort out.
And what if you do have a substantial amount of money or property? Who gets what? A will is also where we can formally write out our wishes for our children. Who would you appoint as their guardians? What values do you want them to be raised with? What dessert should they be forced to make every Christmas Eve? Last but not least it’s in a will were you can confirm your desire to be an organ donor.
Making a will isn’t that hard. It sounds like a lot of effort but it’s really not. The Public Trustee offers a free will-making service to all Queenslanders over the age of 18. Or you can make up your own will with a kit or online for as little as $25. Or see a solicitor for as little as $150. So that’s my goal by 31st January – to make a will ensuring Ava is well looked after and forever has my recipe for Quiche Lorrain. And (ahem) my Kylie tapes.
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Over the past 25 years Rebecca Sparrow has earned a living as a travel writer, a television publicist, a marketing executive, a magazine editor, a TV scriptwriter, a radio producer, a newspaper columnist and as an author.