2019 Scholarship Winners
Brady Cobin Law Group, PLLC would like to congratulate all of the students that applied to our scholarship contest. This year, we asked applicants to write an essay addressing one of the three topics we provided. We received many creative essay submissions and although we wish we could award every student who applied, we had to narrow our selection down to three winners. Please join us in congratulating our winners and be sure to check back next year to apply for our scholarship.
2019 Scholarship Winners:
1st Place – Erin Martinek
Question: How could individuals start a conversation about establishing a will or trust with a loved one or an elder? Discuss personal experiences (if possible) or things you think might assist with initiating a conversation.
Talking about death in our current society is awkward, and uncomfortable. Our culture is constantly focused on promoting things that make us live longer. We don’t want to imagine life without our loved ones, even though, rationally, we know someday they will pass. Grief appears to be a monster that eats people from the inside out. So, why would we want to talk about dying? Well, for the loved ones who we leave behind, our passing leaves them with insurmountable grief. Leaving this world without some sort of plan, or written document, containing our wishes for our worldly possessions, leaves our loved ones with an additional headache and unnecessary stress to accompany their already time-consuming grief. It is important that we talk about and plan our wills, or trusts, at an earlier stage than is likely thought. As a loved one of a parent, a grandparent, aunt, uncle, or sibling, it is smart for us to speak with our loved ones about what their desires for their belongings are in a compassionate way.
In 2017, I was 25 years old and had never thought of my will. My parents, who were in their mid-50’s, decided their New Year’s resolution was to purchase their cemetery plot and plan their funerals, as they already have an established and updated will. Fourteen days into 2017, my brother, Taylor, aged 24, died unexpectedly. We were facing this insurmountable and unexplainable grief. In addition to this, we had to figure out what he wanted done with his belongings, where to be buried, what to do with his cat and so on. Through this process, I have learned it is never too early to discuss these plans, and I therefore am okay with talking with my family about their wills and trusts.
Once someone embraces death and understands that it is undoubtedly coming, it is easier to speak with loved ones about this. My great aunt is dealing with my great uncle’s severe health issues. My dad and I spoke with her recently about planning for his passing. In order to approach the conversation appropriately, we discussed the matters lightly, while also offering our help and aid through the process. Death seems lonely and scary. Someone who is approaching this topic should be willing to go through the process with their loved one so they never feel alone. We told my aunt that it might be time to plan for his will before he needed a power of attorney, and while he could express his wishes. We asked her if she wanted company while seeking out funeral plans and planning for other scary and uncertain situations.
When any person completes their will, they are doing it with an understanding that they will not be around for the will to be executed. This is frightening and something our brain does not want to consider. When we reach out to our loved ones to discuss or approach this topic, we should put ourselves in their shoes. The person bringing up the will to their loved one should remember to bring it up lightly and acknowledge that they don’t want their loved one to ever leave, but also that they want to know exactly what their wishes are. Bringing up a will or trust with a loved one is ultimately a sign of love and respect so you can know how to best honor your loved one when they pass.
2nd Place – Jonathan Greensbergs
Cicero said that philosophizing is to prepare oneself for death. One such way to prepare for death is to anticipate what to do when you or a loved one are gone, such as by crafting a will, and the consequences of not acting are serious. When preparing a will, you should consider three things: what is intrinsically valuable to your family and friends, what has external monetary value, and what to do with the dead person’s body. Determining internal value means talking to loved one’s about what things they have cherished memories about, before a death occurs.
External monetary value is easier to assess, and possibly harder to divide. Burial decisions are easiest, but require a frank discussion on what people want to have happen to their bodies.
Intergenerationally, this issue has changed in disappointing ways.
Family goods are those things with which people have important or formational memories associated. For example, my grandfather taught me how to play chess on a handcrafted chess set that he brought to the United States from Mexico after he immigrated here from Guadalajara. This type of family heirloom is one that should be willed to individuals or families, because it has significance to not only individuals experience, but also shared family culture, and is used commonly. If something does not have value specific to the family like an old broom or something that has been in storage, donating or selling the item may be an appropriate choice.
Distinguishing between the valuable and the valueless is the essential aspect to this part of will-creation.
Additionally, assets like homes, stocks, savings, etc. must be evaluated and the person who is writing the will must make the determination of how they want to divide their money. Ideally, all money would be equally divided, especially between children, because showing monetary favoritism can create significant problems between surviving family members.
Next, burial rites must be considered. If someone wants to be buried or cremated or some other alternative, then their wishes should be explained to their family ahead of the death if possible. Otherwise, living family members will fight over what should be done, adding more stress to a difficult situation.
If any of these are not accomplished, then the odds of infighting increase, as distress and sorrow transform into indignation and anger, with people who should be supporting one another in a time of loss. The deceased’s legacy becomes tainted with conflict and compounded loss, because of a lack of foresight.
Finally, I would say that over time, as the economy has grown and items have become more commercialized, recent generations have become more concerned with money in a will, rather than being interested in family heirlooms. This is a tragic development, as money is a tool of society, one that can be acquired in many ways, but birthrights are unique to families, and ought to be treated with more reverence than they are by Millenials. Bad decisions can be made when creating a will, but the worst decision would be not creating one at all.
3rd Place – Rito Espinoza
In todays Scholarship I plan to explain the terms of when individuals should begin planning for an unforeseen circumstance in their life’s. The ages I think individuals should begin to take control of unforeseen circumstances is at age18. In my personal experiences I had a rough life growing up with poor economy and my parents being separated was very tough on all the family of 5.
The major areas I should consider focusing in would be first thing to do is finding a job that fits your needs and distance from your home if no transportation is available. Second, I would focus what are the health concerns my parents have or has there been a will establish to control the uncontrollable situations such as the aging process we all go through. The prevention of planning is figuring out what you want to see happen in the event of such incapacity situation to be secured for our kids’ future.
If a will is not established, then we can sure carry out the plan with power of attorney situation, to assure what is to come for our future generations of our kids when are parents time is up and not lose all the assets. Teaching our kids or loved ones at a certain age level is very important. Teaching at age10 to our kids is the best way for them to control the future in the coming years when we all get older.
I have seen many situations that occur without cause or notice in our family such as my grandmother death and we were lucky enough my grandmother did her will ahead of time and had everything written up for what was to be done. Educating our kids is the best planning we can do for them to learn the process of what estate is or will. It is very crucial to intent on passing all assets in time for our loved ones and keeping it simple for them to understand.
Many issues have arise for those who do not plan a will and are left with no where to go but leave the house or sell the house, because no estate is done or will. In the end I believe a will is the best source to leave ready at age 18 for our kids and advise them with knowledge on what has been done for the good of them. Planning with a will to your loved ones prevents so much chaos within the family and everything is safe from outsiders while our children will have full access to all our assets left behind know they will represent the next generation for our grandsons. It’s always important to consider a will in time and have kids safe from outsiders. As we can all see estate planning is very simple to complex situations depending on the family size and ages. I believe a will is a favorable measure to take and keep the family tradition going for what was left behind.