It’s the thing you don’t expect when you’re expecting.

It’s about as comfortable to discuss with your family as it is to chat religion and taboo politics during dinnertime-banter with friends.

But it’s something you have to discuss with your spouse or significant other, and if there’s children in the mix, it’s absolutely necessary— it’s your will.

Because when there’s a will, there’s a way that your descendents will avoid much potential confusion, giving you a posthumous high-five for helping them sort through your wishes as they sort through their grief.

While pregnant with my first son, my husband and I met with a lawyer who prepared our last will and testament, a testament to taking proper steps to ensure our future children would be taken care of.

Preparing a will, especially when you have children, is not morbid. 

What’s morbid is dealing with estate and financial complications when a parent passes away, often leaving children confused amid their grief.

Executing an estate’s tough work, and though I’ve luckily never had to be in such a position, I’ve witnessed both my parents handle each their parents’ estates after they’d passed, having to follow their directions one last time.

But oh, how much more complicated it would have been without those orders.

Even with a will and last wishes in place, settling the affairs of a loved one who’s gone from this world is still an intricate process, rife with issues still very much of this world.

While my husband and I completed necessary paperwork, the lawyer suddenly mentioned something that hadn’t yet occurred to us. 

He said that when children are involved, what surprisingly causes more trouble among relatives is not money— but choosing guardianship if the children are still young enough to need one.

People often visualize they’ll pass on long after their children are grown and leading independent lives. After all, this seems the rightful circle-of-life way to take care of business, at least according to Mufasa and his cub-lifting baboon.

But it’s sadly not always the case.

Parents need to plan ahead and make guardianship arrangements, should their own unforeseen, premature passing occur.

And it’s wise to plan ahead. 

Think of appointed guardianship like car insurance or owning a generator— you truly hope you never need it, but you’ll have a proper plan of action in place if you do.

So there’s nothing macabre about it.Families can all too quickly become bitterly divided over money and possessions of a loved one who’s passed away with no will in place.

But guardianship and custody squabbles can be just as biting without the parents’ orders— literally their ‘will’— in legally documented form. So remember, testaments aren’t just for bibles or thrilling John Grisham novel titles.

Start the conversation with your co-parent-in-crime today.

— Michelle Cote is creative director of the Journal Tribune and a nationally-syndicated columnist. Rocking out to the classics in her minivan with husband and three sons is totally her jam. Contact her at [email protected]

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