Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Last Will and Testament

Boy! Talk about trying to take all the fun out of going paddling! Now we’re going from snake bites to the last will and testament. Like it or not, we’re in an alien environment when we go into the outback. It’s a place where Murphy’s Law reigns supreme. In doing risk management, we need to not only worry about assessing daily dangers on a trip, and how we’ll handle something like a broken bone, capsizing, or severe laceration, but how things will be managed if we fail to return. It’s not a comforting subject, but it’s called reality. If we’re going to pack a survival kit to help insure our return, then we need to think of the last will and testament as a survival pack for those left behind if we don’t.

I had done such a document a couple decades ago, but things change, so it was time to do some updating. It insures that our heirs get the fruits of our labors rather than the government, or that possessions are parceled by your wishes rather those of a judge. It helps to provide for your wife, children, even your grandchildren. Included should be a power of attorney that allows your wife or person of your choice to serve in your place as though you were still here. It gives them immediate access to funds, insurance, property, safe deposit boxes, vehicles, and all things necessary to settle your bills and other obligations and carry on with life. Failure to have this settled in advance forces them to endure long, frustrating, and costly legal battles that you could have averted merely by the signing of your signature. It would also be a good time to include a living will provision that gives you authority to determine in advance if organ donation would be appropriate for you, or if you would like to be maintained artificially in a vegetative state while having all your assets destroyed by senseless medical procedures. These are all very personal choices and decisions, but we can paddle with greater peace and contentment knowing that we have everything in order and shipshape in advance?

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