I’m a Quitter

Don’t worry, I’m not quitting 15minutesofchange.com.

In fact, I plan to post more in the coming months.

One of my themes for 2016 was to become a better public speaker.

I listed this as one of my areas of focus for 2016 because of my talk at DisruptHR.  You can get the highlights on my LinkedIn page or see the full talk on gregsroche.com.

I have always been comfortable speaking in front of people, but I have never deliberately practiced public speaking.

To deliberately practice, I joined a Toastmasters group.

A few weeks ago, I gave my first speech.  It was titled, “The Quitter.”

The original text was published over at Medium.

I hope you’ll take a look and enjoy it.

 

Call Me A Quitter, Please!

At least, that’s what they called me. “They” were my teammates. And I had just quit the high school basketball team. Growing up in a small town, you either played sports or you didn’t. I had always played sports. In addition to basketball, I played on the tennis team.

 

 

 

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Planning for My Untimely Death: How To Write Your Own Last Will And Testament

Write Your Last Will and Testament - Image courtesy of uslegalwills.com

Write Your Last Will and Testament – Image courtesy of uslegalwills.com

50% of Americans don’t have a last will and testament.

Most of the people who don’t have a will say they haven’t gotten around to it, didn’t think it was urgent or didn’t think they needed one.

Nobody likes to think about death.

But, alongside taxes, it’s the only certainty in life.  Dying without a will makes life difficult and expensive for the family left behind.

If you die without a will, the state you live in becomes the executor of your assets and affairs.  Your family will go through the probate process as your money is divided and the state determines what to do with your children.

If you are worried about cost of creating a will, dying without a will and going through probate will be much more expensive for your family.

 

There are two ways to create a will: hire a lawyer or create your own will online.

In a post titled, How I Took The First Step In Planning For My Untimely Death (MUD), I explained the process I used to hire a lawyer and create a will, a living will, and powers of attorney for my wife and for myself.

However, if cost is a consideration, writing your last will and testament online may be a better option for you.

 

Can I Write My Own Will?

Most experts say if your family situation and assets are straightforward, then you could create a will on your own.

“A married or unmarried individual with an insignificant level of assets (that is, below the threshold before federal and/or state taxes kick in), who knows where his or her assets will go, knows there will be no conflict among the beneficiaries and who has a clear choice of executor will probably get a rather satisfactory online will,” says Jeffrey A. Asher, a partner in Eaton & Van Winkle LLP in New York. (via Bankrate.com)

From the same article, here’s a list of reasons you may NOT want to create your own will:

  • You or your spouse are citizens of another country.
  • You have significant assets.
  • You’re raising grandchildren or stepchildren.
  • You’ve been married more than once.
  • You anticipate your will might be contested.
  • You own a small business.

Standard Legal Disclaimer: I am not an attorney and this is not meant to be legal advice. If you have any questions, please consult a lawyer.

 

If you’ve decided to write your own will, there are plenty of online options to choose from.

The services available range from free forms you download to online programs that ask you questions, create the forms for you, and then send them to legal experts for review.

Of course, the more services you use, the higher the cost will be.  In nearly all cases, the will you create online is going to cost you less than having an attorney write it for you.

Attorneys usually charge between $300-$1000 to create a will.

Most online services provide your last will and testament for less than $100.

Some online services are free and make money from the advertisements on their site.  Other sites are “freemium” –  they write your will for free, but make money selling upgraded services.

Choosing the one that’s right for you can be daunting.  Enough to make you put it off another year like 50% of Americans.

Don’t put it off.

Top Ten Reviews is a site that reviews products and compares them side by side.  They’ve done the same for online will creation products.  When you feel like you can’t decide which online service to use to create your will, take a look at the article on the Top 10 last will and testament programs.

Then, go get your will done.

 

How do you write your last will and testament online?

Even though I already have a will that was written by an attorney, I am going to try to replicate the one I have using one of these services and see how it comes out.

I’m not going to sign this document or have witnesses to sign it.

That way, the one I already have is the last will and testament to be used in the event of MUD.

I read the reviews in the Top 10 article and visited some of the websites to get a feel for whether or not they were easy to use.

In the end, I chose one that was not on the list called Willing.com.

This is a new service in the online legal documents industry. It’s not included in the Top 10 Reviews article above.  You can read about my experience and judge for yourself if it’s right for you.

Getting Started

When you go to Willing.com, here’s what you’ll see:

The Willing.com Home Page

The first time I visited this site, I noticed a few things:

  • I could write my will for free
  • I could name guardians for my children
  • It only takes 10 minutes
  • The page was simple and easy to read

Here are the steps to create a last will and testament on Willing.com:

  1. Click Get Started
  2. Create your account with an email and password
  3. Follow the prompts to answer questions about:
    • Your name, gender, and date of birth
    • Your marital status and information about your spouse and children, if applicable
    • Types of assets you have like life insurance policies, retirements accounts, bank accounts, and pension plans.  You don’t have to give details, just list whether you have these accounts or not.
    • Existing prenuptial agreements, terminal illnesses, or leaving property to disabled individuals
    • Instructions for your assets
    • Instructions for your burial or cremation
    • Your executor – the person responsible for carrying out the instructions in your will
  4. After you have answered the questions, your will is created.

Total time from start to finish: 5 minutes and 30 seconds.

It was very simple to do and easy to understand; however, I was surprised when I got to the last screen because this is what I saw:

How Much It Costs For a Free Will

How Much It Costs For a Free Will

 

You can get a free will from Willing.com; however, if you have children, you have to pay extra to add instructions about their guardians.

The reason I was surprised was because, on the home screen, it said I could name guardians in the same section that it said my will was 100% free for life.  I don’t have issues with the “freemium” model, but I felt like the initial marketing language was not transparent regarding the upgraded services.

I can understand the other upgrades – adding a Power of Attorney and Living Will – but naming the guardians for your children is one of the most important aspects of a parent’s will.

The cost isn’t outrageous and is in line with other online will creation products, but seemed a little sneaky to me.

If you don’t have children or if your children are already legal adults, then Willing.com is a quick, free way to create your will.

When you are finished, you can download a copy of your will and print it.

It will contain instructions on how to sign it, how to get your witnesses to sign it and where to store your will.

What To Do With Your Will

What To Do With Your Will

Here’s what I learned about doing creating my last will and testament online:

  • There are many options.  Pick the one that suits your price range and needs
  • It should take you less time than hiring an attorney
  • It should cost you less than hiring an attorney
  • If your family situation is complex or you have large monetary assets, you should not use an online product. Hire an attorney instead
  • Make sure you sign your will and have your witnesses sign it, too
  • Keep only the most recent copy of your will
  • Whether you use an attorney or an online service, be sure to keep your will in a safe place and let your executor and guardians know where to find it

Writing a will is something every adult needs to do.

There is a range of options to get it done, online or through an attorney.

Stop putting it off.  Pick one of the options and get it done.

Today!

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How To Put Civility Back Into The World

This post originally appeared on Medium.


The guy was angry with my wife.

She was driving down the road, reaching for my son’s sippy cup in the back seat. The stopper had come out of the lid and red juice was sloshing around the back of the car.

Admittedly not concentrating on the road, my wife swerved back in forth in her lane.

The man accelerated his car, passed her, and flipped her off as he went by.

At the next stoplight, my wife pulled up next to him and rolled down her window.

“Sorry,” she said, “but my son was spilling juice all over the back seat, and I was trying to grab his sippy cup.”

In that moment, my wife was no longer an unattentive driver.

She was a mom struggling to get control of a messy situation.

And when he looked at her in that context, as a mom struggling to get through her day, he softened his heart.

“No problem,” he smiled, “We’ve all been there.”

Why have we lost our civility?

What causes us to look at a person and feel contempt for him?

Anonymity

Anonymity is derived from the Greek word ἀνωνυμία, anonymia, meaning “without a name” or “namelessness”

What I mean by anonymity is we don’t know the person toward whom we direct our contempt.

We see them in our physical world, but only as an abstraction.

They are “nameless.”

When we can’t identify them as people, we tend to treat them as less than people.

We open ourselves up to treating them uncivilly.

What is civility?

The root word for civility is the Latin cīvīlis which means:

  1. Of or pertaining to citizens; civic, civil.
  2. Of or pertaining to public or political life; public, political.
  3. (figuratively) Courteous, polite, civil, affable, urbane.
  4. (substantive) courtesy, civility

The root gives us the words civility and civilization.

Civilization is living together in large groups under defined social norms.

Civility is practicing these social norms in order to live together peacefully.

As cities have grown and more people have moved into communities, anonymity becomes more prevalent, and with anonymity, comes incivility.

The civilization we live in causes our incivility.

Think of places you see uncivil people every day:

  1. The highway
  2. A line
  3. The airport
  4. Youth sporting events
  5. The mall parking lot
  6. The sidewalk

In each of these places, we rarely know the people occupying the physical space around us.

They are nameless.

Possibly faceless.

We don’t know what happened in their lives this morning.

We don’t see them as individuals.

We don’t see them as the same as us.

And that makes it easy to be uncivil to each other.

Technology has increased our anonymity and made us less civil

As our digital civilization has grown, so has our anonymity.

From the safety of a keyboard, we insult each other out without having to face those with whom we disagree.

Even in professional settings, it is easier to allow messages between co-workers to take on a nasty, biting tone if you have never met the person on the receiving end of your email.

The media doesn’t help.

In pursuit of a 24-hour news cycle, cable news channels bring on guest after guest to attack one side or the other.

In most cases, the object of the attack is not even in the same room as the attacker.

Everyone can have a website, blog, or just post in a forum. In most cases, you don’t have to use your real name.

You and the people you are deriding can remain anonymous.

How Do We Eliminate Anonymity?

We’ve all heard the Golden Rule: “Treat others as you want to be treated.”

According to Wikipedia, “ The concept occurs in some form in nearly every religion and ethical tradition.”

In the Christian tradition, it occurs as “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

What does this have to do with anonymity?

In order to love your neighbor, you have to know your neighbor.

Your neighbor has a name and a face. She has struggles just like you.

She is worthy of the same respect as you.

Thinking in these terms eliminates anonymity.

Who are your neighbors?

As our civilization expands, your neighbors are all around you — physically and digitally.

As we come into contact with more people, there are more opportunities for us to be uncivil to each other.

What if, when someone was irritating us, we asked ourselves, “I wonder what his name is?”

What if, when you saw someone with whom you disagreed with online, you pictured her face, as she sat at her keyboard, and thought, “Why does she believe that?”

What if, when someone is driving erratically, we thought, “I wonder what’s going on in her life right now?”

What if you stopped and thought of her as your neighbor?

The guy in the car behind my wife didn’t think through all these questions.

But my wife, seeing the middle finger fly in her direction, refused to let anonymity remove civility from her day.

In that moment, she could have simply attributed his behavior to rudeness.

She could have seen him as a jerk, an anonymous asshole.

Instead, she decided to let him know who she was.

She removed the anonymity between them and showed her neighbor in the next lane her struggles as a human being.

When he saw her as a mom just getting through her day, he connected with her.

He regained his civility.

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