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Next of Kin

Inver Grove Heights columnist Betty Jo Hockinson reflects on life as a 'military mom.'

I don't have a will prepared yet because I associate that document with eminent death.

Maybe it's not that simple. Maybe the reason I don't have a will is because I’m waiting for that time in my life when I can be certain I will not have to change or modify the contents once it is written. Whatever the reason, to date, I do not have a will.

The subject is fresh on my mind because our soldier son has a pre-deployment readiness checklist, and it suggests that all soldiers at least consider preparing a will prior to facing active duty. This forces all of us to think about the unthinkable, and to try and answer the question: In the event that Luke loses his life and has no will prepared, what happens to his assets?

In the state of Minnesota, the courts have answered this question for us by building a hierarchy of beneficiaries into the law. Typically, when a person dies without a will, whoever is next of kin becomes beneficiary of the estate. Luke is not married, and has no children. Therefore, his dad and I are his beneficiaries by law.

Should something happen to Luke, his oversized margarita glass would be ours! The bucket of golf balls he keeps in the closet would also be ours, as would the boxing bag that hangs from the rafters in the garage. We could reclaim the dental retainer that Luke has worn on his upper teeth every night since eighth grade, and the Xbox 360 system that no one knows how to operate.

If Luke wants to leave his treasures to someone other than his parents, he will need to prepare a will indicating exactly that.

When we discussed this subject, which is really very serious, he thought about it for all of about two minutes before proclaiming: “Mom and Dad, I’ve made up my mind. If something happens to me, I want you to have everything I own.”

In that moment I felt a mother’s pain. In his own words, Luke had just told us that if he does not come back from overseas, he would like us to have all of his worldly possessions. He owns nothing of real value, yet it all means something to him, and
represents the way he lives his life.

Luke decided there was no reason for him to prepare a will. I agree. He is coming home when his tour of duty is complete. He is going to move out of our house, and he is going to take his golf balls with him!

Editor's Note: Betty Jo Hockinson is an Inver Grove Heights resident and a regular columnist on Patch. Her column publishes on the first and third Wednesdays of each month. E-mail her at bjhockinson@comcast.net.

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