In my New PGH Family Fun series, I highlight new family-friendly opportunities within Pittsburgh.  I monitor social media sites and conventional news sources to find the most interesting and unique NEW adventure options for families in Pittsburgh.  Then, I write about them here! 

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I know this series is supposed to focus on new family-friendly fun stuff in Pittsburgh;  however, I’m going to start this article out on a morbid note.  Bear with me! It will be worth it.

Late last year, a friend of mine and a fellow Pittsburgh parent passed away suddenly after a horrible accident.  He had two young children and a wonderful wife.  Many Pittsburghers were stunned by his death.  Some of us still are…

In the aftermath of this tragedy, my husband and I learned about the dangers of not having a “Last Will and Testament.”  My deceased friend’s “estate” became tied up in probate court, meaning that his widow was unable to access their funds for months.  After her experience, my husband and I got worried.  What if (god forbid) something similar happened to us one day? Eventually, we consulted with a lawyer to draft a will for us.  After hearing the price tag, almost $1000 (!), we walked away empty-handed….

Katy Rank Lev, founder of Pittsburgh's family-friendly "Get Your Act Together" parties.
Katy Rank Lev, founder of Pittsburgh’s family-friendly “Get Your Act Together” parties.

By pure happenstance, soon afterwards we received an email from Katy Rank Lev and the Pittsburgh Toy Lending Library.  It provocatively asked:

“Do you have your act together?”

In this email, I learned that Katy Rank Lev, a local mother, has made it her mission to organize “Get Your Act Together,” or will-signing, parties at local family-friendly venues like the Pittsburgh Toy Lending Library (PTLL).  Her goal is to help DIY-minded, young families (like us!) take care of these important documents in a convenient and affordable way.

Recently, I had the chance to interview Katy and learn more about her “Get Your Act Together” parties. Here’s what I found out (in her own words):

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What are your “Get Your Act Together” parties?

At my “Get Your Act Together” parties, I bring mobile notaries to a space I’ve rented (or even your house) and people come with their prepared documents:  Last Will, Durable Power of Attorney, Medical Power of Attorney, Living Will, etc. The other adults at the party act as each other’s witnesses and the notaries can stamp the documents to make them official.

 

Katy and her family
Katy and her family

What makes your “Get Your Act Together” parties unique?

Other people have organized “will-signing” parties.  However, they are generally for adults-only.  For us, childcare logistics were a huge part of what held us back from “getting our act together” previously.  For that reason, I consciously choose kid-friendly venues for my “Get Your Act Together” parties so parents can actually bring their kids along.  That way, parents can take care of something really, truly important while their kids are doing something stimulating and fun.

 

How do people prepare for your “Get Your Act Together” party?

To prepare for the event, families need to get their documents together beforehand. This is the hard part!  You can choose to have a consultation with an attorney, or you can take a more DIY-minded approach and use some of the resources available online or in local libraries.  Our family used Rocket Lawyer when we did it last year (they offer these documents for free during the month of April!).  The website walked us through all sorts of yes/no and short answer questions in order to help us fill out the paperwork, much like TurboTax.

Once you figure out your wishes, you fill out the document templates, print them, and bring them (unsigned) to the event.

 

Playing at the Toy Lending Library!
Playing at the Toy Lending Library!

When is the next event?  Where?

I am organizing two “Get Your Act Together” parties for this spring.  The next one will be on April 28th at the Pittsburgh Toy Lending Library. The play space is great for the young kids to explore while their parents take care of this very important business.

I’m also hosting another event on May 19th at Shining Light Prenatal Education.  Shining Light is a brightly-colored, kid-friendly venue with a wide open floor, yoga balls to rolls, and yoga bricks to explore.  Many young families utilize this business and their tag line: “Illuminating Your Path to Parenthood,” speaks to the idea behind these parties.  After all, these sorts of documents just matter so much more once we have kids. Getting them squared away lifts a huge burden, leaving room for parents to really focus on living with their families!

 

What is the cost to attend a “Get Your Act Together” party?  What does it cover?

Right now, the events cost $31.20 per person.  An odd number, right? But I’m really just trying to cover costs and keep things affordable.  The fee covers space rental, the mobile notary fees, and three stamps per person.

 

katy4Why were you inspired to start organizing these parties?

I stumbled across Chanel Reynolds’ website. She is a young mom in Washington state whose husband was killed in a tragic cycling accident. She didn’t have any of this legal paperwork together and spent months dealing with probate court and spent thousands of dollars settling her husband’s affairs.  She decided to do something about it and her website has all sorts of templates, checklists, and resources.

As a freelance writer, I decided to interview Chanel and several family lawyers for an article I published in Bust.  In the process, I learned that only 36% of Americans have a will!

The scary truth is:  If you do *NOT* have a will and you and/or your partner should die, the estate will most likely go into probate. This means going to court, hiring lawyers, and spending months trying to access funds and assets meant to take care of your children!

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Who am I kidding?  I know that this entire article was somewhat morbid.  Getting your will, POA, Living Will, etc. notarized is not really a fun experience.  After all, we’re young and healthy.  Why do we need to worry about this stuff anyway?  Well, I can’t tell you how glad I am that we attended Katy’s first “Get Your Act Together” party at the PTLL last winter.  While my kids played happily amongst the toys, my husband and I formalized important decisions that we have discussed over the years.  Who will take care of our children if something happens to us?  What life-saving measures would we want if either of us became incapacitated?  Who will execute our wills?  And many more…

I sleep more easily at night now…

At some point in the future, I know that we’ll sit down again with an attorney and create a more complex, detailed Will.  However, at this point in time, my family’s situation is relatively simple and we don’t have the funds to spend on attorney’s fees.  We felt comfortable creating these documents ourselves using online resources and then making them “official” at Katy’s party.

THANK YOU to Katy Rank Lev for helping to make this intimidating experience affordable, convenient, and family-friendly for Pittsburgh parents!  AND for fooling our children into thinking the whole thing is just another fun playdate :) !

Want to connect with Katy Rank Lev and find out more about her “Get Your Act Together” parties?  Check out her website here.  And here is the site to register for her next event.

© Copyright 2014 Nadine Champsi, All rights Reserved. Written For: The Pittsburgh Mommy Blog
Nadine Champsi

Nadine Champsi

I am a doctor turned write-at-home-mom who runs the Pittsburgh Mommy Blog and is editor of Kidsburgh. I have two wonderful young children and am happily married. My interests include cooking, green-living, gardening, being in the outdoors, listening to great music, checking out the city's cool art, coming up with creative things to do with my kids, and having as many adventures as I can!
Nadine Champsi

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