Recently a friend and fellow photographer passed away and what will happen to his most prized possessions – his cameras, probably wouldn't please him.
My friend passed away without a will and with no specific instructions, his cameras will not be handled the way he wanted them to. He told his wife and a couple close friends what his wishes were and reckoned that would be enough. It wasn't. The problems started right away. There were conflicting accounts of what should become of his beloved camera collection and since there were no written instructions, there is no way to verify who is correct. You would assume that everything goes to the surviving spouse, but this case was complicated by a second marriage and in this state, certain personal items are to be sold and the proceeds divided in the absence of written instructions from the deceased. Now nobody wins.
None of us likes to think about it, but no matter how young and healthy you are, it's a fact that none of us are guaranteed tomorrow. You need a will. Think about it; you have a lot of expensive equipment. You may say you don't care about what happens to your camera, but there's more. What about your body of work? Your work is your legacy and depending on the laws of your state, and the state of mind of the survivors, your work could be lost as well. It helps your loved ones to know for sure how things are to be taken care of. With your instructions written, there will be no conflicting recollections and the inevitable disputes that follow.
I think you will agree, a will is something you owe to your loved ones. Why not make it even easier for them? I encourage you to do what my Mom did. Mom not only has a will, she also has a living will to provide instructions on what to do if she is incapacitated or if there are any difficult medical decisions to be made. She also has her funeral wishes written and , and all the documents, names and phone numbers are all in a folder that I keep in a safe place. and there are copies with my sister as well just in case I'm not able to help.
Here are some things to consider:
- If you are incapacitated, who will take care of your business while you are recovering?
- If there are any medical decisions to be made, who will make them on your behalf, and what would you have them do?
- When you die, what would you like done with your body and who should do it?
- What kind of funeral do you want and where?
- Is there a minister, priest or pastor that you want contacted?
- Who else should be contacted?
- What about your body of work?
There's a lot to consider and you need the help of an attorney. It doesn't cost much and it will be a great help to your loved ones. When you pass away, they will be mourning your death and lifting the burden of having to make decisions and arrangements will be the best gift you could give them.