In our third episode, we sit down with Erin Bury and Leisse Wilcox to unpack one of the biggest taboos out there – death. The reality is that aging, illness, and ultimately, death, are a natural part of the human process. Yet, no one wants to talk about it for fear of sounding morbid or inconsiderate. What’s worse is that due to the lack of conversation around death, there’s also a lack of planning, which causes high losses and complicated processes for grieving families. We discuss how Erin Bury’s company Willful is changing the narrative around estate planning, Leisse Wilcox’s experiences with illness and her perspective on death, and what listeners can do to be prepared. Click here for the full episode.
Our top four takeaways from Erin and Leisse:
It’s OK to talk about end of life
“Very early on when we were tackling estate planning with our company, we decided to focus on the lighter side of it, the legacy, the peace of mind. And it’s interesting because you’re right, I do think about and talk about death every single day. And, you know, it’s actually made me feel more empowered about it. I’ve had the conversations with my parents about their funeral and burial wishes. I know what I would do when that happens. I’ve talked about it with my husband, who’s also my co-founder. And so, yes, it can be scary to think about. And it doesn’t make it less scary for me because I talk about it more. But it makes me feel better knowing that if someone close to me passed away, I’d know what to do and how to honor their legacy, and that if I passed away, I would have reduced the burden on my loved ones by compiling the information and having the conversations that will make them empowered at a time when they are already going through something difficult.” – Erin Bury
Don’t have assets? You still need a will.
“Some of the misconceptions that I hear are, you know, I only need a will when I’m old or when I’m rich. And in reality, a will just isn’t about allocating your assets. If you’re a pet owner, if you have a child, it can help you to assign people to take care of them. But it also just assigns an executor, which is someone who wraps up your estate and without a will, it just makes that process a lot more complicated and burdensome on your family. I also hear a lot that, you know, I can only create a will by visiting a lawyer. And in reality, what makes a will legal is that it’s created by you and how it’s signed and witnessed. And there actually isn’t any requirement in Canadian law to visit a lawyer so it can be more accessible and less expensive than people think. And then I think just the time it takes, people think that creating a will is going to require hours of compiling tax returns and financial statements and I always try to to bust that myth and say that a will is really a simple legal document, it adheres to your umbrella estate, everything you own and sitting down to do your will is as simple as knowing a few decisions about who you want your things to go to and who you want to take care of dependents when you pass away. But you don’t actually need even one bank statement to sit down and do it and it can take as little as 20 minutes.” – Erin Bury
You do better when you know better
“I have like the shocker of a lifetime for you. You are going to die. Like this ends at some point. And I think we work so hard to not talk about it and not talk about illness and not talk about end of life. We don’t want to talk about any of the uncomfortable stuff because it doesn’t make us feel good. This is an incredibly valuable conversation to have because I want to be the one that helps people go into their darkest, most shadowy places and bravely turn on the light. As someone who was a single, self-employed mother of three who kind of accidentally got breast cancer in her mid 30s, I can tell you also firsthand, personally, this is a wildly important conversation to have because we have to normalize that this is a part of the process. And unless we actually tap into the normalcy of how like how normal this stuff is, how to best prepare ourselves, how to take the awkwardness or the discomfort away and really step into the power of being prepared, it’s so empowering, which means that to not share this conversation, to keep it hidden, to repress and add shame on top of it, is really phenomenally disempowering.” – Leisse Wilcox
Ain’t nobody coming to save you
“Making this [a will] like detaching from this concept that was kind of sold as a bill of goods, that there’s a one size fits all approach to life. There isn’t. There is an infinite infinite size fits all approach to life because it is your own based on your own truth in your own experiences and your own gifts, like all of those things. And to really embody that and take that notion of like this applies to me because it resonates for me. You know, this I, I find meaning in this, therefore it belongs to me. And then even something like a will that’s like there is no should, there is no set of parameters. There’s only what feels good and resonates to you in the way that it makes sense to you. It didn’t maybe make sense to you when you were 28. That’s OK. You didn’t do anything wrong. … You know better when you do better when you know better. And it’s like if it makes sense for you now because now you are more informed and now you have more tools, therefore more responsibility to really sit in that level of newfound power and make it your own and do what feels good to fully make it your own right. This is the conversation that with so many other things in life, it applies to you because of the meaning that it has for you in the way in which it resonates.” – Leisse Wilcox