Rick Miller LICSW


Are Your Affairs in Order?

Take the time now to ensure what happens later.

Posted Feb 05, 2015

Though this is a common question, especially for people with a terminal illness, it has particular meaning for  gay men. Since gay men have learned at a very young age to be secretive or private, the habit frequently carries into adulthood and certain important things become lost along the way.

Regardless of your age, are you ready? Most of us who make out wills do so while we are healthy and not thinking about this inevitability of death.  Perhaps it is more fantasy than reality at that moment, and it makes it easier to make sound decisions.

Do you have a will? If your answer is no, it means that all of your assets and belongings go to your next of kin.  That means your closest living relative. For gay men this may be especially challenging. Perhaps the family members don’t share the same sensibility as their gay male relative and won’t appreciate the items that will come to them. Even more difficult is the fact that some gay men are not even in contact with biological family, and yet, with no will, family has the legal right to make decisions, whether or not they reflect the gay relative’s actual wishes.

Gay men are good at accumulating things. It is a special treat to leave close friends the treasures that we have collected. And chosen family is often as, if not more, central to a gay man’s life than biological family. But the question of a will and other arrangements goes beyond this. Unless you make specific plans, your family will organize a funeral or memorial service, and if you are somewhat nondisclosing with your family of origin, they won’t necessarily know how to organize it in a way that represents your true essence. 

Here are some important things to think about. It is a relief to consider these important details and to spell them out for others.

  • Make a list of the people to whom your most beloved possessions should go.
  • What are the provisions for your pets?
  • What kind of a service you want? Do you prefer a formal funeral, or a memorial service?
  • Do you want the service open to everybody or just certain people?
  • How do you want to be recognized during the service? (Since gay men are good at compartmentalization, many details regarding life’s accomplishments aren’t even known to those who may plan the service).
  • Would you prefer to be buried or cremated? Where? In a family plot or elsewhere? Be specific. If you are to be cremated, for instance, where would you like your ashes to be spread and who you would like to be present?

Make sure your “will” is still in force after you are gone.

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