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The Will to Create a Will

As a studio artist, I seldom think about my monetary legacy.  I am pretty sure that I will never get to retire, at least in the typical American sense of the word. Since I love my work and feel a drive to create every day, I accept this fact. But I do try to think ahead to the future, when I may not have the ability to create as much, travel as far, or make as much money as I do now.

Jeweler April Hale in her Montana Studio

Jeweler April Hale in her Montana Studio

My thoughts on my “estate” changed when I had a child last year. Since I am in my late 30’s, hopefully I won’t need a will or living will anytime soon, but now there is someone to inherit my meager funds, someone who needs to be cared for in the event that something happens to me. When I found out about the Get Ready Grant from CERF+, I was presented with the opportunity to plan for the future. The Get Ready Grant provides artists up to $500 toward emergency preparedness, from flood-proofing a studio to estate planning.

The process was very straightforward. I applied for and received a grant to hire an estate lawyer, then I went about trying to find one. I set up an appointment, met with the lawyer, and she sent me home with some paperwork. Most of the questions were simple – what assets do you own, who gets to make decisions for you if you cannot, etc. I was surprised, though, at the complexity of emotions that I felt when coming up with answers. Deciding who gets custody of our child is not an easy question to answer, nor was it one on which my partner and I completely agree. Although it took much longer than I thought it would to come up with answers to some of the questions, I was eventually able to get the papers back to the lawyer.

From there, she just typed up some forms, had me sign them, and now I have a will!

One unique aspect of my will, as an artist, is what will be done with my art when I am gone. I asked the lawyer to include a special devise in which my work is to be sold via a silent auction, with the proceeds of the auction benefiting our local art museum and one of my favorite artist residencies.

Although it was such a simple process, the task was quite daunting, mostly because writing a will requires one to consider one’s own mortality in a very concrete way. The process was made easier by my lawyer reminding me that a will is a changeable document – I can always edit and alter the will if circumstances change. While I didn’t feel completely prepared to write a will, I am so grateful to have received the Get Ready Grant; had I not it is likely that in five or ten years I still would not have an estate plan or will. The grant gave me the motivation to safeguard my legacy and my son’s future.

Portrait of April Hale

April Hale is a works nearly every day in her small studio in Stevensville, Montana – making sustainable, handcrafted jewelry by combining blacksmithing, enameling, and fine silversmithing into a contemporary, nature-inspired aesthetic. She has been creating jewelry for over ten years and holds a Craft Certificate in Metalsmithing from the Appalachian Center for Craft in Smithville, Tennessee and a Master’s of Fine Art from Montana State University in Bozeman.

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