How losing my father lead to me starting Wills.com.
I was driving in my car giving a friend a ride to the airport when my brother called me to tell me to pull over where he broke me the news,
He had come home and found that our father had passed away in his sleep
Feelings of disbelief and immense sadness overwhelmed me. Left with so many questions, what was I supposed to do now? The one person in my life that always had all the answers and was supposed to be immortal had died...
I was devastated and while dealing with the grief of losing a parent I was now tasked with the responsibility of organizing a funeral and I was asked what we wanted to happen to his remains.
Well, the truth is... I don’t know, I have never organized a funeral before. My siblings and I looked everywhere for a will or a letter of instructions, called insurance companies, and trust companies all without anything. So my dad had died suddenly without any explanation.
Luckily my siblings’ partner was a funeral director and was quick to come to our aid, he picked up dad and we all gathered at his house the next day, and over an afternoon we drank some beers, cried, laughed, and planned a funeral for our father Peter Senior Hoonings to whom we said our final goodbye on a warm spring afternoon in 2015.
It was a simple ceremony that allowed us all to gather one last time and say our goodbyes
I never really knew how much went into planning a funeral and how much it would cost?
(Too much for three brothers in their late teens, early 20s… I ended up having to borrow money to pay for my father’s funeral expenses.)
We never much discussed the topic of death with our father. And when the topic did come up in conversation my dad would joke about it and say “just throw me in the compost bin and be done with it. Although funny at the time this was not an option when the funeral director asked us what we wanted to do, we opted for cremation.
After the funeral, we started with dividing his possessions amongst ourselves and closing down his accounts, and settling his accounts, another process we knew little to nothing about and was not easy as we had no clue where to find most of the information we needed. It took me and my brothers almost two years to finalise settling the estate and with that became all too familiar with the challenges that lay ahead when it comes to losing someone you love
- Disposition of a body. Burial or cremation?
- What should the funeral look like? The music, the flowers, the speeches, a coffin?
- Who pays for it? Funerals are more expensive than you think.
- What happens with the possessions? The house, the cars, the money, any debts?
- Where are the details and passwords to all the accounts? Finances, insurances, mortgages, phone/internet/television plans?
- Social media and other cloud-stored data?
When my father died there was a lot of obvious emotional distress and grief but I had no idea how much of an ordeal it would end up being. When it was all done and dusted we were 2 years down the line...
The whole experience left me feeling somewhat resentful towards my recently deceased father. I was pissed because all it would’ve taken is to sit down for an hour and write down a few words of wisdom for his kids? maybe some instructions on how to do all the things I used to come to him for help?
Now, years later, I find it easier to understand that not just for my father but for the vast majority of us mortals it is hard to talk about death because we do not want to die.
But by ignoring its inevitability and lack of action (planning) we essentially set up the ones we love the most up for failure.
Because here is the truth! We do not create an estate plan for ourselves.
No! You create one for the ones you love! And because of that, you get to live the rest of your life with the peace of mind that your loved ones will be taken care of when you are no longer there.
This is why I created wills.com a platform that makes the process of planning for your end of life easy and affordable. Estate planning is about caring for your loved ones by protecting their assets.