CHANGE–Anybody Can Do It!! (How to Buck “The System”…)

Well, it’s true.  And yesterday, I DID IT!  And, much to my surprise, I came away with the most light-hearted, joyous feeling that I’ve had in years!

What did I do??

I sat down with the lawyer to start creating my will! Yup, and I was completely surprised by how I felt afterward!  I had put it off a long time. My original will was drafted in 1992 and had become totally out of date and out of step with who I have become.

My lawyer drives down from Albuquerque every two weeks, wears a bush hat and works in his shirtsleeves.  He’s a lot different from the lawyers we knew in NJ!  And it was something he said after we were done that really summarizes what it’s all about.  We discussed the “Other Wishes” section of the draft that I will be reviewing and he said that this is where I could express my “philosophy” so that the people who execute my will will have a better idea of how to proceed if there are any “gray areas” that come up. (I’m having a professional trust company do it, not family since I’ll be alone out here in NM.)  As he said, there are two types of people he works with: those who simply pass out money and those who are “philanthropists”–people who really think and research about who is going to get their money. He considered me the latter.

Imagine that. Realizing that I could actually be a philanthropist! I had never thought of myself in that light. It was a real perception-shifter!

Of course, I’ll be leaving personal items and some cash to the brother and nephews. But, the bulk of the bequest will be people and animals in need.  I always look at the worst-case scenario.  Since there’s always the chance I’ll wind up vegetating in a nursing home for awhile, I have to make sure that at least some of the money I’ll have through my own savings and inheritance, will go the places I want.  So, when I do inherit, I will take a chunk of money and disperse it right then and there just in case there might not be anything left later.

Basically, my “philosophy” has gelled into this: 1) donate to places that help people help themselves and 2) donate to places that help those (animals) that can’t help themselves.  And, don’t go with the “big” names or the “umbrella” organizations that disperse funds…or spend it on lobbyists in D.C.  No, keep it as local as possible.

Over the last few days, I’ve called every place I want to donate to and talked to the people in charge.  I’ve asked what areas they need help with the most. I’ve been treated to hearing tired people react with surprise and gratitude as I’ve discussed my plans.  Talking to these folks has made me just as happy as actually deciding on the will.

Today I will meet with the new director of the local animal shelter, who is trying to turn the place into a no-kill facility.  Even if she doesn’t succeed right now, I can still leave funds that can help efforts to keep trying.  “Restrictions” place on money help with this sort of uncertainty about the future…and still will help in critical areas of need even if the ideal situation hasn’t been reached.  I’ve also talked to Best Friends Animal Society, who helped set up the no-kill Safe Haven Sanctuary here and they expressed an interest in perhaps helping out with the shelter after I gave them an overview of the current situation there.

And, of course, I arranged a place for my dogs to go so that they may lead out their lives if the outlive me.

In the middle of this awful election season, many of us have struggled against the powers that be and are becoming more and more frustrated and tired at the same time.

But yesterday, as I left the lawyer I was left with the happy knowledge that, in the long run, I’m going to have some control over what my legacy will be and that I will be helping to change some lives for the better. In the end, I’m going to work around the roadblocks that are in our path today…and succeed in the future. The politicians and media can talk all they want, but I’m going to do what I want to do and they can’t do anything about it.

And the joke will be on them…



Animal Places

Safe Haven Animal Sanctuary

Spay and Neuter Program (SNAP)

Ironwood Pig Sanctuary

Front Range Equine Rescue

Animal Services of the Mesilla Valley

Best Friends Animal Society

People Places

Planned Parenthood of New Mexico (Independent of the national and totally dependent on their own fundraising)

Places being researched–organizations which help people help themselves re: kidney disease and mental illness