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How to Write a Will (even if you don’t have a lot of money)

Having a will is a GREAT idea—even if you don’t have a lot of money—in fact, especially if you don’t have a lot of money.

That’s because, if you die unexpectedly without naming your heirs, your money is going to get tied up in litigation, and lawyers are expensive. No matter what amount of money you have, some of it’ll be wasted on fees if you don’t have a will. Plus, your family won’t be able to easily access it to, for example, help with funeral costs or medical bills.

Then there’s the potential for in-fighting over your stuff and the burden of figuring out logistics. Do you really want your family to spend time dealing with your finances and assets when they’re still grieving? And who gets your cat? your dog? your goldfish? These are all things that can be easily, and relatively painlessly, figured out with a will.

How to Write Your Own Will

Getting started was overwhelming for me. This WikiHow link was helpful when it came to understanding the terminology I wanted to use in my will—and how wills are written in general.

Some states have a state-provided boiler plate will so Google search with site:.gov and see if you’re one of the lucky ones! I live in Virginia, which doesn’t provide a boiler plate will *sobs. But my state does subscribe to the Uniform International Will Act.

What’s the Uniform International Will Act, you ask? Basically, a bunch of countries got together in the ’70s and said, “Hey, we should have a universal will so that way people moving around a whole bunch don’t die and leave court systems/their families with a lot of headaches.” That’s in layman’s terms. Since we’re getting technical here, this is a write-up on its actual requirements. The act goes a little overkill on signatures, but it’s pretty easy to fill out once you get going.

Now, the Uniform International Will Act isn’t for everyone. Unfortunately, not all states or countries accept the act so if you’re planning on moving, make sure you’re still in accordance! This is a good blog post explaining the act and its other pitfalls.

Because my will is very uncomplicated, I will be using this act. However, the act alone isn’t a will. So you either have to write your own language or borrow from someone else. I used the California boiler plate will because I like it and then I updated it to suit my needs. Here is the finished product for free in a GoogleDoc so you can use it, if you like.

NOTE: The will must be filled out in your own handwriting. NOT on a computer. The will does not have a section that refers specifically to pets, but I made sure to add a line that leaves my cats to a friend who has agreed to take them in should something happen. I would hate for them to end up in a shelter!

How to Write an Advance Medical Directive

While you’re at it, fill out an advance medical directive form (free from AARP) that will tell your family what you want in terms of end of life care, organ donation and pain management.

Make sure to tell your family members where they can find copies of your will and your directive in case of an emergency! And, for extra bonus points, write out a funeral plan and keep it with your directive. It won’t be a legal document, but it will help your family in a BIG way. They won’t have to guess what you would’ve wanted, taking a huge weight off their shoulders.

Yeah, this is all a pain in the behind to think about—not to mention actually follow through on. But, just remember, you’re doing a good thing for your family, and that makes it all worth it.

MOST IMPORTANT NOTE: I’m not a legal expert, and none of this should be taken as legal advice.

Photo Credit: Melinda Gimpel

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Best Free, Bodyweight Workouts on YouTube

I hate working out. It’s SO. DAMN. BORING. and fraught with social interactions I’d rather avoid.

I tried running. I really did. I got the phone apps. I got fitted for the shoes. I joined training programs. It was multiple-exclamation-points-terrible.

Running around outside makes me feel like an idiot. I’m dripping sweat in a ratty T-shirt and shorts that are probably too short as I pass office workers heading into the city with makeup and expensive suits. Or, running at night, I end up as fodder for the scourge of mosquitos that follow me around in a cloud as soon as I step outside.

Jogging on the treadmill at our apartment’s gym is almost as bad. Thank god for climate control and the absence of insects, but dear lord, it’s just so monotonous, and there’s only so much a workout music playlist can do before it becomes completely useless.

So that leaves an actual brick-and-mortar gym. And, for a long while, I was a gym rat. I went every day for at least an hour. But, the problem with going to a gym that frequently is that you start to make friends.

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My Obituary

Mollie Ann Bloudoff-Indelicato died at age 111 in her Peruvian beach bungalow, surrounded by adoring fans and friends. Cause of death was heart failure due to uncontrollable laughter. (Dave said something particularly hilarious about Chuck Norris. WAY TO GO, DAVE.) She passed on her 110th birthday, Nov. 7, 2100, which is convenient for anyone who has to memorize these dates for a middle school history exam.

Mollie is survived by probably no one because she’s going to be fucking ancient when she dies. She died at the exact same time as her loving partner, The Notebook-style. (For you whipper snappers who’ve never seen The Notebook, look it up with your smart glasses.) She leaves behind 16 cats, two turtles and something that looks vaguely like a dog.

Mollie became an international celebrity when a video of her unicycling while juggling fire to protest cuts to Planned Parenthood went viral. This prompted a world tour where she championed the need for better healthcare for women. She met with several presidents, prime ministers, a dictator (once) and the King of England, whom she found particularly pedantic and boring.

Mollie was entered into the Guinness Book of World Records for building the world’s largest garden gnome. She invented a new type of ketchup that was so widely successful, Heinz switched to making peanut butter. SUCK IT, HEINZ. She shamed the Free Masons into letting women join the society as full members and was present when their first transgender black woman president was sworn in. ABOUT TIME.

But it wasn’t all ponies and rainbows. Her inability to finish TV shows or the final chapters of any book series she particularly liked was cute but, honestly, annoying. C’mon, who doesn’t know that Snape killed Dumbledore by now? Then there were the few years she decided to get really into pottery and knitting, resulting in two consecutive Christmases of quite terrible presents.

She also founded the Malcolm Gladwell Books Suck Society, which we thought was a little overkill. (So he’s a bad journalist, get over it, woman!) And, of course, who could forget that time she briefly ran a cult out of the Lindt chocolate factory in Seoul? Oh, classic Mollie.

Mollie founded a scholarship to support underrepresented groups in STEM, which has helped thousands of minorities break into the sciences. She was also essential in lobbying the Secretary of Education to update the national high school curriculum to require courses on sexual harassment, email etiquette and decorative cake baking, respectively.

However, her greatest achievement in life was fucking the patriarchy many, many times.

The service will be held at the holiday resort at McMurdo Station, Antarctica. Don’t bring flowers—the penguins don’t like them.

According to obituaryguide.com, we’re suppose to end this obituary with a quotation, poem or “three words that sum up the life” so here ‘goes.

Quote: “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.”

Poem:
“Streetlights people
Livin’ just to find emotion
Hidin’ somewhere in the night
Don’t stop believin’
Hold on to that feelin'”

Three words: So. Ridiculously. AWESOME.

 

Photo Credit: Roman Kraft (because newspapers will totally still exist by the time I die…)

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Koala Cairns Australia

Poking Things in Australia

Growing up, my mother constantly had to tell me not to touch things.

Don’t touch the cookie jar (too high), don’t touch the remote (too loud), don’t touch that counter (too unsanitary), don’t touch the stove (too hot), and don’t touch that mud puddle (oops, too late). In fact, I think it might’ve been easier for her to outline the things in life I was able to touch, as opposed to keeping up with my desire to stick my hands in places they didn’t belong.

Fast forward a decade or two, and I’m well into adulthood. Years of social conditioning have taught me that touching random stuff is generally frowned upon—I do it anyway.

I love poking things: buttons, soft leaves, the pristine surface of a newly opened jar of peanut butter. But my true addiction is poking animals. Fortunately for me, this isn’t usually an issue. In DC, the only animals close enough for me to poke on a daily basis are rats and pigeons (aka rats with wings). Ain’t nobody got time for that mess.

Then there’s the non-issue of pets. I’ve had pets my entire life: dogs, cats, birds, a chicken (once), and all of them were mostly OK with/didn’t hate a gentle tummy poke. (Hey, I said I’ve had pets my whole life, not that I was a particularly good or savvy pet owner.) The animals I live with right now, which include two cats and a tall, hairy man, are trained really well/trapped in a long-term Stockholm Syndrome-type situation. Both ways, it works for me.

Yup, things were going pretty well on the poking front, but then the Significant Other took me to Australia, the land of extremely poisonous, vicious, murderous and pokeable animals.

*We were there for two weeks. Now’s the time to place your bet. Exactly how many of my fingers ended up in some exotic animal’s digestive tract?

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What to Eat in Australia

My favorite part of traveling is sampling the local fare. I’ve learned far more from my searches for national cuisine than I have from any tour. The people I’ve connected with over a meal (or while hunting for that meal!) are always happy to chat about their love of this-or-that dish, and oftentimes, the conversation lasts much longer, and goes much deeper, than my original inquiry.

I once spent an hour chatting with a Japanese woman who was fascinated by this foreigner’s obsession with trying puffer fish. I’ve made friends sipping a fermented spit drink with Amazonian locals. I got a good-natured laugh out of South Africans when I told them I really wanted to try termites (they taste like popcorn btw!).

Food connects us. That’s why I think it’s so important to be open-minded and go for the gusto when I’m in a new country. Here’s my list of foods you have to try in Australia:

Vegemite

Vegemite

You can find this at any grocery store. Anywhere. It’s not my cup of tea, but it’s a must-try if you’re visiting Australia. Just don’t buy the big jar if it’s your first time sampling. Photo: StephenMitchell

Lamington

Lamingtons

These taste just like Zingers, but they’re usually chocolate with raspberry filling. You can eat an entire box in one sitting. They’re that addictive. Pro tip: Read the package before you buy. Sometimes there are other flavors, like orange, and that’s just WRONG.

Crocodile

Crocodile

It’s a white meat, but it was tougher than I expected and tasted just like (you guessed it) chicken. It needs to be marinated with something acidic like lemon, and I’d recommend sprinkling it with fresh dill. Overall, I wouldn’t get it again.

Camel

Camel

This was DELICIOUS. It’s sweet like lamb, buttery almost. It’s not too tough and not too tender. Goldilocks would’ve gone bananas for this dish. I give it an A+! You can pay for it online at Sam the Butcher in Sydney and hop on a bus to pick up your order.

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Sydney Opera House

Top Things to do in Sydney

One of my life goals has been to visit all seven continents—before I turned 30. WELP, it took some convincing, a LOT of planning and, not one, but TWO hellish plane rides, but I made it happen! The Significant Other and I spent four days in Sydney. You can definitely do it in two, but we wanted to go slow, take it all in and spend some time recovering from jet lag before we continued on our journey. Here are our recommendations. Enjoy your time Down Under!

  • Watch the sunset “over the Sydney skyline. Ah, that famous Sydney skyline. There is nothing quite like watching the sunset over the harbour bridge. Head over to Darling Point for the best views over the city during golden hour.”
    • You can also hike to the top of the bridge! We didn’t opt for hiking because it’s pretty expensive, and we wanted to save up for a diving trip at our next stop. But, if you do it, let us know how dizzyingly terrifying it was in the comments!
  • Take the Ferry to Manly: “No trip to Sydney would be complete without taking the ferry over to the beach town of Manly. A return ticket costs around $13.20 and the ferry departs from Sydney Harbour, taking around 30 minutes each way.” 
    • Manly is a really cute little beach town. We went when it was windy and rainy so the only people on the beach were surfers. It was still a LOT of fun to take the ferry—sit on the upper deck at the front of the boat, and prepare to be splashed by the waves! Plus, we got some great photos of the Sydney Opera House. Walking around Manly was relaxing in the drizzle. I’m sure it’s a packed tourist trap in sunny weather! If you do make it over there, check out their aboriginal art store. It’s right on the main path from the ferry to the beach, on the right-hand side. You can’t miss it!
  • Art After Hours (Wednesdays) 
    • Rub elbows with the locals and enjoy cool art! We were way too jet lagged to do this when we first got in, but we’ll definitely attend on a future trip.
  • Free walking tour
    • 2.5-3 hrs
    • 10:30am and 2:30pm Every Day from Town Hall Square.
    • “No need to book. You’ll find your guide wearing a bright green ‘I’m Free’ T-shirt on George St between Sydney Town Hall and St Andrew’s Cathedral.”
    • If you’re well-traveled, this might be a bit of a bore. Everything in Sydney is so new that there’s not too much in the way of history. I’m glad we took the tour because I enjoyed learning about the culture and history that does exist, but I could’ve skipped it if we’d been crunched for time.
  • The Hayden Orpheum: Cinema in operation since 1935
    • It’s a trek to get out to the theater, but I’m glad we did it. We got to see neighborhoods we wouldn’t have otherwise explored. Plus, the theater really is a lot of fun to check out, and you can’t beat an action movie on a rainy afternoon!
  • Paddy’s Markets
    • This is where you go to get all your souvenirs. The prices are over-the-top for clothing so head to a thrift store instead. Paddy’s Markets is really all about the boomerangs (made in Indonesia) and cute koala keychains. It’s a tourist trap, but it’s been in operation forever and, well, you are a tourist, aren’t you?
  • Sydney observatory
  • Museum of human disease
  • Wendy’s secret garden
  • Lawn bowling
  • Ground of Alexandria

    Day Trips

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