Making a Will can be a beautiful affirmation of your connection to family and friends.
If you have been putting off making a Will, consider this: making a Will can be a beautiful affirmation
of your connection to family and friends. And on a functional level, wills allow you to provide for loved
ones in the event of the unexpected.
A client’s daughter recently asked me how I can work as an Estate Planning Attorney without getting
depressed. My answer surprised her. I love helping clients take control over their affairs and square
away a task that has been causing some measure of stress or concern. And there are elements of a
Wills that are empowering at a time of political uncertainty.
Many of us have families that look different from the spouse-and-kids ideal of the 1950s, and it can
cause concern when it comes to making sure that the people you love are provided for.
- What if I have not adopted my spouse’s child?
- What if the Supreme Court reverses its decision on same-sex marriage?
- What if my partner and I never married, or we’re a blended family?
When your family doesn’t fit the traditional mold, a Will is especially important. A Will gives you the
power to define your family as you choose, no matter what shape your family takes.
By making your Will, you create legally binding relationships for the purpose of providing for the
people you love.
Using Your Will to Define Your Family
Wills give you control over how you define your family—regardless of who sits on the Supreme Court
or what laws are passed at the state level.
Wills begin with a section where you state your family relationships. You are asked to state your
name and whether you are married. You are asked to state the name of your spouse or partner if
you have one. And you are asked to name your children—including children who may not be legally
adopted by you but whom you parent and you consider to be yours. In later sections of the Will, you
can distribute assets to selected individuals in a way that is similarly based on how you define your
When done correctly, the way you define your family in your Will legally reinforces your love
and connection to the people who are closest to you.
Wills in Action
Here are just a few examples from my practice of how clients have used the power of their Will to
define and provide for their chosen family:
- An unmarried couple made sure they provided for each other. If one were to die first, the
other would inherit an amount sufficient to pay the mortgage on their shared home and
provide for retirement.
- A same-sex couple with a child protected their family relationship. Worried that unforeseen
political changes might threaten the parenting rights of the non-biological parent, they named
the non-biological parent as the first choice for Guardian. This reassuring move reinforced
the child’s right to remain with the surviving parent should the need arise.
- A blended family ensured that all the children were equally provided for. Both spouses had
children from prior relationships, so they both stated the names of every child in the family in
their Wills and instructed that all the children should all be treated as the child of the person
signing the Will.
Wills offer a measure of control over our affairs and affirm the family bonds we have formed. And
there is a joy and relief to getting documents completed and place.
Do you have questions about your family’s needs? Feel free to contact me directly.
Attorney Michael Geoghegan is a father of a two and lives in West Seattle. He specializes in guiding clients through Will-making and managing Probate to resolve affairs after death of a family member. When summer is in full swing, you’ll find him with his kids looking to jump in a mountain lake.