2 min

Next of kin

For those of us living outside the socially sanctioned next-of-kin mentality

“Hey, I have a question for you,” my friend called, feigning light-heartedness. “You can think about it. Feel free to say no.”


“Would you be the executrix of my estate?”

“Are you dying?”

“Honey, we’re all dying,” she said, her voice returning to its usual cocktail of sarcasm and wry with a twist of bitter.

She had been to the drugstore and tested her blood pressure on one of those machines. It was high. Then she toured the city on her motorcycle and did four more blood pressure tests that evening. She cross-examined the results with her doctor’s the next day.

Sure enough, her blood pressure is really bad and that means she has had to go off her anti-depressants and that means she has started thinking — a lot — about drafting a will.

“What does an executrix do?” I asked.

“Sell the house and give the money to animal shelters. Or get a bunch of $100 bills and pass them out to homeless folks saying courtesy of me. I’m not sure yet. I just don’t want Stephen Harper and Gordon Campbell getting their dirty paws on my hard-earned house.”

“Or truck,” I added.

She laughed.

“You better start thinking about this, too, kiddo. I don’t see you shacking up with a legal spouse or having children.”

“True. But when I go, I’m leaving a big pile of student loans.”

“That’ll change. I used to be like you, remember? One day, you’ll wake up and realize there’s equity in your house, your RRSPs are actually worth something and that homemade will you stashed in the freezer four years ago has your ex’s name on it.”

She sounded a little paranoid but she made a good point.

So many of us are living lives outside of the socially sanctioned next-of-kin mentality. Default legislation does not reflect our realities. Those of us with spouses and children have come a long way in terms of estate rights but the rest of us could stand to think about these things.

If our politics disagree with giving our savings over to the government, then we have to go out of our way to make sure that our wishes are fulfilled.

Drafting a will is a healthy way to reexamine what actually matters to us. My friend — whose stubbornness will easily let her live another three decades — makes me proud; she’s coming up with a plan and a cool one at that.

Of course I’ll help her execute it.

Although many of us refer to each other as friends, we are also each other’s husbands and wives and children and parents; this is what chosen family means.