My name is Jennifer Gumbel and I’m an attorney with Hoversten, Johnson, Beckmann & Hovey, LLP in Austin, Minnesota (the Spam Austin, not the good music Austin… unless you count the Gear Daddies… which I do).
I’m a wife, mom and a death lawyer. I do probate law, meaning I deal with the legal issues that come up when someone dies, and estate planning, helping people minimize those issues when they die.
You’ll notice I talk Minnesotan. I don’t mean “ya, sure you betcha”, but anytime I talk about law, I talk about it using Minnesota legal terminology and the Minnesota legal context. I’m licensed to practice in Minnesota and licensed inactively in Florida, meaning I can’t practice Florida law. It’s tough to keep up with those required continuing legal education classes for Florida law from all the way up North. In addition to this blog, I’m also a past contributor to the national legal blog, Lawyerist.
Why do I like this stuff? You mean, why am I morbid? I guess I don’t consider myself morbid, just more like not afraid of talking about death, which I chalk up to two reasons.
The first is my world-view. I’m a bible-thumper. Well, as close to a bible-thumper as Lutherans get. We’re a pretty reserved bunch if you aren’t familiar. So… bible-..tapper? Anyway, I’m convinced death isn’t something to fear. I’ve actually known many who wait on it expectantly… which is not a point that I’m at quite yet, but as crazy as it sounds, aspire to be.
The second reason is my own family history. My father died very unexpectedly of an aggressive form of cancer and at a relatively young age, when I was only fourteen. Yeah no doubt, that was awful. But because of that experience, when I ease the process in any way for another family, I understand the good it does.
As a society we might have come leaps and bounds in knowing how to frankly discuss things like money and sex, but haven’t made much ground in overcoming awkwardness dealing with death. That awkwardness actually does a disservice to the ones we love, because if we don’t deal with our own mortality, we force our loved ones to deal with it for us. Organizing those affairs isn’t being morbid, it’s just good sense.
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