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Assets, Wills, Businesses, and Estates

Turkey! A Thanksgiving Questionnaire for You.

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3866850No, not the bird in the oven, soon to be on the table. You, turkey. Or really, your parent or your adult child is the turkey if they won’t fill out this questionnaire.

But there’s more fowl play: not pushing them to share this information makes you an ostrich, head in the sand, ignoring the obvious. And making the legal and family situations much, much worse.

A word of explanation. This is your third chance to get critical information. Many readers have mentioned that the two previous Thanksgiving Questionnaires were very useful. Some readers even thought they were funny.

(So figuring that three’s a charm, and because some of you didn’t use this questionnaire before – and we know who you are, turkeys — here’s an updated version for you to use four Thursdays from now.)

How this works: put a copy of this Questionnaire under the plate of each parent or adult child at your Thanksgiving table, along with a pencil or pen. Even a crayon. (If you want a pdf to print out, email me.)

Then when everyone is seated, announce that while you’re thankful for all the blessings and goodness of the past year, but you don’t want to be unhappy and resentful at some point in the future.

Why would you? Because they didn’t tell you some things you really, really need to know about. And that’s why they should fill this out.

Here goes:
Dear ……………….. (fill in your first name, or “Dad,” “Mom,” whatever.)
We’re hoping to be here next Thanksgiving, too. But we know Things Happen. So my answers below should come in really handy.
1. What Should You Do With Me?
Bury me ______ Cremate me _____ Surprise me: _____.
2. And what remains . . .
 Your grandfather bought burial plots for all of us in a cemetery. I don’t have a clue where. I drove through one and found a workman, but learned nothing; he was either hard of hearing or dead, too.
 I have (check one:) have____ haven’t ____ made arrangements.
 Here is some information about that most expensive piece of real estate I ever bought (i.e., my burial plot): ________________________
 OR: If you cremate me, then afterward (not before, please) scatter my ashes here:_____________________________________________
 OR give my body to this medical school:____________________ I always wanted to go there, and this is the only way I’ll get in.
 OR: I like the idea of being cryogenically frozen like Ted Williams Attached are the arrangements. But ask them to thaw me out in the year _______. And leave a credit card in the pocket of my shroud.
3. Am I here or not?
Please follow the checked test to see if I’m brain-dead or not:
 Put a piece of chocolate on my tongue. If it’s still there fifteen minutes later, or if it falls off my tongue onto my chest, disconnect everything immediately. If it’s gone, I’m gonna be better real soon.
 I’ve read for years about these incredible acts that people do. Try one on me.
4. Now for the who-gets-what:
 I don’t have a Will.
 I have a Will but I don’t have the faintest idea where it is. If I could find it, maybe I’d talk to you about it. Turn on the TV, will ya?
 My Will was in a safe deposit box at the bank but:
o I don’t remember which bank. I think it’s in Brooklyn.
o The bank has been bought out twice by bigger banks and nobody working there now knows anything.
o The branch is closed and is now a Dunkin’ Donuts.
 The lawyer has the original Will but I can’t remember the name. There was an elevator in their building, does that help?
 The lawyer who did my Will:
o was a stranger. Your stepsister and stepbrother took me to this lawyer’s office just once to sign the papers.
o worked in this financial planner’s office but I stopped using them long ago.
o worked in this insurance agency but they moved and I don’t know where to, and the insurance company disavows any knowledge of the agent’s whereabouts.
My important papers you’ll need -– like my Will and Powers of Attorney -– are:
 at this lawyer’s office: _______________________________________.
 locked (really!) in a safe deposit box at ________________________ You’ll find the key in _____________________________________. Remind me tomorrow when the bank is open, and we’ll make sure you’re on the signature card.
 here at home, hidden in ______________________________________.
 in the safe which is located – where is that thing? And what’s the combination? Just kidding: look in ________________ or look under _______________
Finally, we have this twelve-carat diamond ring hidden among our possessions. Whoever finds it, gets it . . . if we haven’t sold it first. Good luck.
Love,
_________________________________________________

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