Do you have a will?
Many people are too scared, squeamish or confident of immortality to make one.
Yet if you're in business, you really should.
One of my Brutal Briefing Questions for new clients is:
What would happen to your business if you died tonight?
More than 80% say their business would die with them!
Flitting round the world from meeting to seminar to presentation means we may collide one day.
And when you run a business, your death isn't just about you.
Battle of wills
First there's your partner – and I mean both kinds.
If you leave early, could your co-vivant or business buddy possibly:
- Find and consolidate your various income streams and investments?
- Manage, sell or liquidate your business and its assets?
- Take and keep control of your intellectual property?
- Look after your staff?
Without a will, the best outcome is that you thrust a hideous, complex burden on those you trust and love, at the very moment they're crushed by your demise.
The worst outcome is that your bed and board fellows don't see eye-to-eye and start a war that destroys everyone and thing.
Do you really want that to befall your pets, parents, kids, clients, friends, suppliers, life's work or legacy?
The second thing about wills is that the standard form (or kit) doesn't prompt you for modern developments like:
- Online content (blogs, ebooks)
- Passive income (affiliate, AdSense)
- Online identities (Twitter, Facebook)
Some of these will live as long as the Internet – generating residual income and kudos that should accrue to your estate long after you're gone.
I notice one switched-on law firm now offers packaged services to run or wind up your online affairs after the show.
I wish to offer my organs and be placed in a biodegradable cardboard box signed by funeral attendees.
I then wish to be fed haltingly into a cremation device whose conveyor (apparently malfunctioning) will be synced by a hidden DJ to Spike Milligan's Q5 Piano Tune.
I want my ashes scattered in a ten-metre diameter circle around my favourite seat in my favourite park, so my wife and doggies may literally sit in my company if they so wish.
These fatal attractions are not intuitive.
That's why I've set them in print and discussed them with all involved.
That way, there'll be no surprises, confusion or wrangling on the day.
I'd like to leave people laughing as I go.
And I hope to end up here.
Though explicit, my will is several years old.
I now have several online interests that no single person could hope to penetrate.
So I'm going to update my will with full administrative details very soon.
Then, if I'm clubbed to death by a childhood rival, Fonnie need only choose the charity to which my flower money goes.
I see the documentation of my wishes and the illumination of my affairs as a final, parting gift to my One True Love.
So, if you're still too timid to express your will, think of those close to you and maybe think again.
Thy will be done
I don't expect to learn your final wishes (though that would be fascinating).
I do suspect you may have tales of funny, handy or faulty wills that illustrate some of these points.
Failing that, I'd like to know why you have or haven't done a testament.
I'm willing you on.
Paul Hassing, Founder & Senior Writer, The Feisty Empire