Photo: Marc Royce
Q: I'm 70 years old and have repeatedly asked my husband to write a will with me. We actually spent $300 talking with an estate lawyer, but my husband was extremely uncomfortable and wouldn't go back, despite my pleas. This is my second marriage and his first. I have four grown, self-sufficient daughters from my previous relationship, and my current husband and I have been together for 20 years. I'm very uneasy not having a will, but he is adamant that he will not discuss the topic. I've also always wanted a trust as my mother had when she died.
Can I make a will and trust on my own? I plan to leave my money to my husband if I predecease him with a stipulation that upon his death, any remaining estate be distributed to my daughters. What are my options?
A: For some reason, men have a far harder time dealing with their inevitable mortality than women do. And, actuarially speaking, that is sad, because they don't tend to live as long as women. That means we're left to cope with the mess they refused to face when they were alive. Your first step, however, has nothing to do with estate planning. I want you to really address why this is happening to you. What is it about your relationship of 20 years that allows your husband to flatly reject your request? What other needs have gone ignored? Is it possible that you've stifled your inner voice? Why do I think the answer is yes? If what I'm saying makes sense to you, then I need you to find the strength to make your voice heard in every nook and cranny of your marriage. Your husband is going to have to listen to you, because this time you're not going to let him tune you out. It's your turn to be adamant! Do you hear me? You can indeed write your own will and trust using a computer program, or an estate attorney can draw up a simple one for $500 to $1,500. But ideally, you and your husband should do this together. Everyone knows the saying "Where there's a will, there's a way." I have a gut feeling that when you find your way, there will be a will.
From the February 2006 issue of O, The Oprah Magazine