What do you have in your wills?

We are looking at setting up our wills for our child (and future children) and thinking about how to structure it for when we pass.

What have you included in yours? Do you see problematic areas of our plan?

We have discussed:

  • Money can be used to pay for college/trade school/other workplace readiness program
  • Money can be used for the purchase of a primary residence
  • $10,000 for the purchase of a first car
  • $30,000 to help pay for the costs of a wedding
  • 1/2 of the money will be distributed upon finishing college/trade school/other workplace readiness program or 23
  • remaining 1/2 will be distributed when turning 30

We want to set it up that money is evenly distributed to each child, or if the child is gone then their share goes to their children and not the other siblings.

I don’t want to be too controlling from the grave but I also want to set my kids up for success if they have to manage through a really traumatic event of losing both parents.


Here to follow along (I, uh, don’t have a will).


Wowow love that you’re doing this and I should do it too!


We did a trust within a will and the lawyer helped to steer the conversation. We didn’t get too specific in the details though. We appointed a guardian and backup guardian, and then an executor and back up executor.

Ideally, the person who manages the finances is a different person than the one who is handling the kid - it helps to separate the interests. After that, we left most of it to the discretion of the executor, as we were told that a lot of money can be spent executing the details if there are too many of them in there. We specified that X% of the trust should be distributed each year to be used for education and living expenses until the age of 18. Then we gave them Y% of the trust each year until they reach 35 years old, when the trust terminates and they receive the whole amount. We also considered that they will be eligible (in our case) for life insurance from both of us, and social security survivors benefits outside of the trust.

Next, and possibly most important, we have a letter to the executor explaining why we chose them, and what we actually wish for our children - the spirit of what we hope we achieved in how we set up the trust. That is also a good place to mention those things like SS survivors benefits and life insurance if those things are outside of the will so they know where to find them.

Good luck! It’s stressful, but hopefully you won’t need it until you’re very old.

ETA: We have two kids, and we did everything even. If we die with our kids, we just sent everything we have (immediately) to be split between our nieces and nephews.


We have a similar letter in ours, I think it says something along the lines that we wish the executor to distribute sufficient payments for post-secondary education. We picked my cousin, who is an accountant, as our executor, and her priorities regarding education match our own. So we weren’t specific as to dollars or percentages, because who the duck knows what school would cost when the kids got there (they were quite small at the time)


I wasn’t clear enough about this - for us this is not part of the trust itself but it is stored with it. Just a separate document for them to consider. This way we can update it easily as we go through life to say things like, “we want to see kid stay in this school if it’s going well,” or “please don’t let them have unsupervised visits with Other Grandma.” Etc.


our letter isn’t part either - but stored with.

Although I never thought of adding non-financials to it like that, which is something to think about


What I have NOT yet done but should, and mean to do, is write a letter to the children themselves. I can’t imagine what I would say, but probably even generic things about how I feel for them and what I wish for them would be comforting if they were to lose us at an early age.


man this is heavy stuff but I love this idea. Added will prep to our master To Do list. Thanks Ginja for starting this thread!


I really like the idea of the letter! We are also doing this as a trust with a lawyer. The total cost of the package (including financial and medical POA for me and husband) is $2900 for those who are curious. I am happy to be transparent. This is both more and less than I expected it to be.

The lawyer told us we can put anything that is legal into the will/trust (you cannot say X must get divorced to receive the inheritance but you can say X must get married…hmmmmmmmm). So we didn’t want to be too specific but wanted to make sure that the intents are honored.

We have separate people for guardians and the manager of finances. The people might change throughout life too.

We specified body composting for our remains.

We also put in provisions for if all of us die: we did a % and a $ amount whichever is smaller to charity and the rest split between our siblings.

None of this is finalized. We have just sent over our initial thoughts for the draft and can update as we get the paperwork signed.

Finally - one reframe that helped me get into a mindset for figuring this out: we all already have a will/prenup. It is whatever is designated by the state that you live in. So if you like what your state has predetermined, that’s cool. If you want things to be more specific, then getting it figured out properly on paper is important.

Anyone in CO if you want me to connect you to the lawyer doing ours I am happy to pass along the contact info.


Are there any particular items that you want to go to a particular person? For example I have a necklace from my grandmother that I want to go to a particular cousin.


Tangential to the will, I have a “hit by a bus” document from pre-2020 and I literally two hours ago made a note to myself to update it, so thank you for starting this thread! I dug the old one out so here’s the general structure.


Immediate concerns:

  • Location of will/POAs
  • Neither X nor I are sentimenal about our bodies so for the funeral do whatever is cheapest. Seriously, if cremation and a cardboard box are doable, that’s fine. At a funeral, if there is one, have someone assigned to taking down a list of well wishers and their contact info for thank you cards later.
  • If you go the funeral route, take someone with you who isn’t as much into the grieving. Don’t try to do everything yourself.
  • Get 10-15 death certificates.

Less immediate:
List of accounts: (checking, credit cards, savings, mortgage, retirement accounts)
Other accounts/information: Our accountant’s name and number, health insurance provider, life insurance provider, employer information for supplemental life insurance, Kiddo’s 529 information, car insurance, advice about where to resell car(s) most easily.

The next few sections are probably taken from reddit’s personal finance section and talk about social security, notifying credit reporting agencies, about how quickly vultures will start circling trying to scam the bereaved with offers to buy the house or “help” liquidate the estate, about how a tax return will need to be filed for the deceased.

Do not make any major financial decisions for six to twelve months (preferably twelve).

Kiddo info:
Pediatrician, insurance, school, therapy, extra curricular.
Long paragraph about Kiddo’s special health needs as it affects him day to day. Half a page on his health history.
What Kiddo is like when he’s overtired/hungry and suggested parental tactics.
General future wishes/college
Nonsense in-family words
Favorite toys/lovies (if any)

Information about our dog, special diet, any meds.

Edit: I actually like this crowdsourced reddit end of life planning page as a good starting point. Reddit - Dive into anything


Our estate lawyer created an elaborate scenario involving a plane crash coming back from Disney World to explain needing a plane for this scenario. I think we left money to our nieces and nephews and to charity.

I don’t have any letters with mine! Maybe I should! We have guardians and backup guardians and created a trust. I didn’t get too specific with the trust- anyone who is likely to administer it knows my general spending philosophies and we’ve all talked together more than once about inheritance (as there is some inherited wealth in the family, and my brother has passed away and left behind a minor child).

We were told that we could NOT specify about any possible SS Survivor Benefits. It’s possible that’s because I also have children with my former spouse?

Because we have 2 older children from my first marriage and then an infant together, we created a 2 trust system. The older boys get 60% of our estate split between them, released simultaneously at I think age 25 ish? Maybe 30? Before that it is at the discretion of I think my mom, or my sister if my mom can’t do it. (The boys are very close in age.) And the baby gets the other 40% much later.

We will have to revise the whole thing if there is a surprise miracle addition- it seems so unlikely that we did not account for it.

Re: money going to the offspring of a deceased sibling: My mom’s arrangement for my orphaned niece is that my sister and I would have join control over her share of my mom’s trust, if my mom dies when the grandchildren are still minors. Then I have control over expenditures for my sister’s kids and she has it for my kids!


I’ve been thinking about this since my son was born but feel so overwhelmed by it. What’s a good first step? How can it be updated? I just feel like I don’t even know how to put into words what we want for our son. What do you do if you don’t have family you trust?


Friends! I tend to think a will is even more important if you don’t want your child going to your family. You can choose any guardian and any trustee. One of our trustees is a friend we trust. I am the guardian to my bffs kids.

It’s actually a pretty simple process.
-find lawyer who does wills (google or word of mouth is ok for this. They don’t have to be amazing, they mostly use form documents anyway).
-fill out paperwork they send you with questions
-review and sign documents in front of notary at their office
-tell a friend where your original will will be stored

You can update it anytime by just paying money to do so, so don’t feel stuck. Mine was $1200 the first time I did it I believe. We updated with second kid, house purchase, etc.


we don’t have kids, so if both of us die within 30 days of each other it’s basically split half to my family, half to theirs. The idea of ‘within 30 days’ is if we’re both hit by a car jumping up on the sidewalk and one person dies on the scene and one person dies in the hospital a week later it is functionally the same. (And if we don’t both die within a short order of the other then the remaining person gets everything.)

They have one sibling with two kids, so that portion is split evenly between them once they’re old enough, and in trust for them until they’re adults. For my side, it’s evenly split by sister and then each sister’s share evenly distributed between their kids. (this is something that I’ll probably change at some point so that the kids with 4 siblings aren’t at a disadvantage to the kid with only one sibling.)

We decided not to do the more detailed age related steps of giving money thing because only one of the kids seems like they wouldn’t do well with access to a lump sum, so it would be a bunch of paperwork without much need.


I said this very casually, it was actually a point of much discussion and probably delayed us getting a will for 5 years. I was initially thinking evenly split across all the nieces and nephews. But since I had (at the time) 8 of the 10 kids on my side, that didn’t feel fair to the shadowy one. In the back of my head was that I generally made 2/3 of the household income, so perhaps that should be reflected in the split (not proud of this, but it’s the truth).

In the end I realized that while I may have brought in the majority of the money, we got to this point financially as a team, and 50-50 shows that.


Ooh jeeez I need to take care of this. This has been on my to do list forever and I need desperately to do it. We know our first choice to take our kids (and dog!) and have talked to them about it, but beyond that :grimacing::grimacing::grimacing: good point. Especially since I have an estranged sister+kids, and the grandparents would throw down to try and get custody even thought their bodies are not up for raising young children. Ackkkk.

Okay, first step. I’m going to post in a community moms group and ask for referrals. :crossed_fingers:

I also need to do this because we have frozen embryos, and that shit is legally the wild Wild West. We did some paperwork with the clinic, but courts have a history of ignoring that, so a will and trust would be a much better system.


I have emailed them back! We have made the first payment so the process is underway!

I think we are going to go the route of a letter/conversation with the person in charge of the money rather than specific amounts (other than percentages based on age distribution). The money for a car and wedding and such shouldn’t be set in stone, I don’t know what things will cost in 20-25 years.

I know growing up at different points my parents had the guardians as:

  • maternal grandparents
  • aunt/uncle
  • friend
  • different friend

It changed because life changed. The friends were closer to our school districts so we wouldn’t have to leave our friends, etc.

It is nice to know what we pick now can always change in the future.

The people in charge of the money was always friends not family.

Colorado also has a weird law that when you die, your spouse doesn’t get all of your assets (unless jointly owned ones or if there are kids) but a percentage goes to your parents. That makes me even more grateful to be deliberate with how we want things to be distributed.

I’m happy we are all working on getting our situations sorted!! I’ll post our progress until it’s complete for accountability. I’ve been dragging my feet.


:eyes::eyes: oops!