When I die

When I turned 18 and joined the Army, I knew that if anything happened to me, my parents would be the legal heirs of my body and my estate. I felt pretty confident that they knew my final wishes and never bothered to write a will beyond what the Army required.

Eventually, I got married and I knew that my spouse would be the legal heir and guardian of all that was mine. We had discussed our final wishes. Again, I felt pretty confident that he would honor them and never wrote a will.

Since then, my parents have divorces. I’ve had a child. I’ve gotten a divorce. (Because everyone gets divorced, here’s proof). I’ve also witness family friends battle through probate court and deal with the heart wrenching guilt of taking a loved one off of life support.

I realized that if I died, my mom will get custody of my body and be my de facto medical power of attorney. My minor son will inherit all of my assets, which really means my ex-husband would inherit it on his behalf. My parents would have no legal standing to ever see my son again. And if anyone, including my best friend or next-door-neighbor, doesn’t like this, they can challenge it in court.

And that sucks. So I did something about it. I hired a lawyer. An amazing lawyer (shameless plug to go see Maija if you’re local: moxie-lab.com).

Maija and I created an revocable estate and I transferred everything I own into it. While I’m living, I am the only one who can manage this estate. But if I die, my brother takes over as manager on behalf of my son. I also created an advanced medical directive – outlining my medical wishes and final wishes – protecting my family from having to make these decisions for me and allowing them to just grieve.

We outlined what should happen to my son and implicitly stated that my parents are entitled to visitation. We also created an electronic power of attorney – which allows my brother to legally access all of my digital information and notify all of my contacts of my passing.

This process took about a month and cost me a couple thousand dollars. Well worth the time and effort.

Dirty Deeds

18 times a day, someone out there decides to brutualize another mother’s child – an irrational, illogical decision motivated by a hatred of a specific religion, ethnicity or sexual orientation. Every year, over 6,500 hate crimes are reported to the FBI.

My son is a bruiser.  He’s strong, he’s fast and he’s fearless. He can kill an imaginary ninja in two seconds and maintains the fastest hot wheel on the play ground.  One day, he will be over 6 foot 2.  He is also honest, empathic and kind. I’m proud of him, every day.

My son likes to paint his nails pink and wear fancy hats with flowers.  He knows that some men grow up to marry women and some men grow up to marry men and some men grow up and don’t get married.  And that’s ok.  And I’m proud of his tolerance and love for every one.

He’s four.  I believe that as a parent, I have to be an advocate for equality.  I don’t know if my son is gay.  I don’t know if my son will cross dress or consider gender reassignment surgery.  I don’t know if he will embrace Islam or Judaism.

But I do know that my words and deeds must consistently negate the warped thinking of those that perpetuate hate crimes. If they believe the bible condemns, I want them to hear my shout of acceptance and love. If they believe their religion is supreme, I want them to see me walk hand and hand with the inferior.

My son deserves my full support. I do not know what struggles he will one day face, but I do know he will never walk alone.