Last night my husband and I watched a movie called The Bonneville starring Jessica Lange, Kathy Bates and Joan Allen. It is the story of a recently widowed woman who sets out in her late husband’s ‘66 Bonneville Convertible’ with her two best friends to deliver her husband ashes to her stepdaughter. The second wife and the step daughter didn't appear to get along and it looked just like a lot of second marriages that I have come into contact with.
Certain events happen to the three friends on the trip to the funeral organized by the stepdaughter that encourage the widow to fulfill her husband's wishes for his final remains instead of his daughter’s careful carrying out of his long out-dated written wishes.
This is a fun movie but one that has a very real message to husbands to make sure their personal affairs are in order when they die. This movie really highlights what can happen when a person doesn’t get around to writing out a current will when their life circumstances change. To keep your wife happy, make sure you have a will and make sure that you have clearly and legally spelled out who is to get what and what you expect to happen to your final remains. Saying that you don't care is just not good enough if you don't want to cause heartache and if you want to continue to make your wife happy even after you die! It took my second husband and I quite a few years to take ourselves to a lawyer and put our new wishes into legal and signed print. And when we did it was painless! We are very lucky nothing happened to either of us in the meantime.
In the movie, the now deceased husband, had remarried after the death of his first wife. He had moved states and he had 20 years of blissful marriage before he unexpectedly died. His daughter inherited the house and his remains. In real life, at least in Canada, the wife would be able to contest the will and get at least half of the house’s appraised value. For the movie of course, she just lost everything.
When a person is grieving (or anytime for that matter), going through a lawsuit is not something that should have to happen. The daughter, in this movie, and in many situations in real life, resented the second wife. She didn’t have any compassion for the woman and didn’t try to make it easy. I can see both sides of this picture. The daughter is fighting to hang onto her father - from a new woman that seems to have replaced her mother and from death. The new wife (in this case new as in 20 year marriage!) has had an intimate relationship with this man and has promised to carry out the wishes that he has told only her about. There really are no sides to take. Both women are doing the best they can even though the man (father and husband) hasn't lived up to what he could have done to make things easier.
If you or your spouse haven’t updated your will lately, I suggest that you watch this light and humorous movie and then make an appointment with your lawyer. In some areas of the world you can simply have your will notarized, but I suggest that you get legal advice if you are in a second relationship.
PS Thanks Sandy for telling me about the movie, it was a well worth watching.