I Can't Take It with Me

It's time to bequeath my earthly belongings. Honk if you love Yes concert T-shirts

  • Illustration by Mr. Bingo for TIME

    I have never felt the need to make a will. Mostly because it's premised on the faulty logic that I'm going to die. Also, I don't really like any of the stuff I have or any of the people who would want my stuff. You want my Yes concert T-shirts? Just ask me for them. There is no need whatsoever to kill me.

    Questions about what I want to happen after I die are of the exact same interest to me as questions about what I wanted to happen before I was born. I don't care what is done with my corpse, if there's a funeral or whether my New York Times obituary is six or seven pages.

    However, two of the things I have managed to acquire are a deadbeat wife and a deadbeat 1-year-old son. So I scheduled an appointment with Allan B. Cutrow, Esq., a partner at Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp, a law firm that has been around for 103 years and therefore must have had at least one client die. The first thing I learned is that the type of law he specializes in is not "dead people's money law" but "estate planning." I liked this very much, since it implied that I have an estate. I hadn't even met Allan B. Cutrow, Esq., yet, and he had already used the law to turn a bunch of Yes concert T-shirts into an inheritance from a Chekhov play.

    The office of Allan B. Cutrow, Esq., while having an amazing panoramic view of Los Angeles, was filled with collectible M&M's merchandise. This, I was hoping, was also designed to make me feel better about my Yes T-shirts. He asked Cassandra and me a lot of questions about our family and assets and then said, "You don't have a lot of assets." Cassandra and I own a house in Los Angeles, an apartment in Manhattan and a lot of savings in stock. That might not be a roomful of plastic M&M's memorabilia, but I thought it was O.K. in a recession.

    This was a recurring theme in our meeting — Allan B. Cutrow, Esq., telling us that we didn't have a lot of money. I asked him if we should even bother planning our estate, and he said we definitely should, since we have a baby. He also said I should spend $2,000 to $5,000 a year on life insurance, since there was no way Cassandra and Laszlo could live off two houses and a ton of mutual funds.

    Then he asked Cassandra and me if we trusted each other to handle the money for Laszlo if one of us died. We did. Then he explained that we might marry new people with children of their own who would talk the widowed one out of giving Laszlo his cash. "It's usually the man who will invest crazily and get his head turned around," he said, at which point I almost walked out. I was not going to sit there and let him talk that way about my superhot future wife.

    He also asked when, in the event of our both dying really soon, Laszlo should get his inheritance. He warned that if we give it to him in his 20s, Laszlo could have a short marriage with a woman whom, I'm guessing, he would describe as a bronze digger. Allan B. Cutrow, Esq., I was starting to suspect, had had a very bad experience with a woman. He also made us think about who would run Laszlo's trust, how much Laszlo would have to do with its administration and whom we wanted to make our medical decisions when we could no longer communicate our desires. It did not help matters when I immediately suggested giving that power to my superhot future wife.

    The most shocking part of our meeting was that it took Allan B. Cutrow, Esq., more than an hour before he mentioned the classic estate-planning movie Brewster's Millions . And he used it to talk me out of creating an incentive trust. Though I thought it would be a great idea to write a will in which Laszlo could get his fortune only if he remade the movie Brewster's Millions .

    The fee for all of this thinking about my death was going to be $5,000 to $8,000. Which seemed like a lot to pay someone, even if it meant he'd have to say I have a sound body. I asked if we could just slip Allan B. Cutrow, Esq., that amount in our will, but he didn't seem up for that. Then I explained to him that his kids would get the money and not have to pay his estate tax. "It's the perfect generational-skipping plan," he said. "You're getting the hang of this right away." Still, he wanted the money now.

    On the drive home, Cassandra and I decided that even if we remarry and have new kids, we know the other one wouldn't do anything to the disadvantage of Laszlo. And as awful as it was to talk about my dying, there was something nice about caring about two people so much that I'll still be caring about them after I'm dead. I just hope I love my superhot future wife half this much.

    This article originally appeared in the March 7, 2011 issue of TIME.