Where There's a Will, There's a Sticky Note

After a Near-Death Experience, being reminded of their advancing age, or having to deal with another person's death, a character decides that it's time to get their affairs in order.

However, they don't do this by going to see a lawyer and writing up a will - instead, they either write the name of the intended recipient on the item, or ask their friends and family to label their possessions if they would like to inherit them.

This trope can come in two flavors:

  • No reference to a legal Last Will and Testament is made - it's all down to the sticky notes. (For obvious reasons, this is a bad idea in Real Life.)
  • It may be justified as the precursor to a legal will in the process of being written, rather than being intended to stand as is.

See also If You Die, I Call Your Stuff. Contrast Personal Effects Reveal.


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  • In The Baby-Sitters Club series of books, in the weeks approaching her death, Claudia's grandmother Mimi labels many of her possessions with the names of the people she would like to have them when she passes on.
  • After Bilbo vanishes in The Fellowship of the Ring, he leaves labelled items as gifts for people. One of his enemies does demand to see a will, but as it turns out, it's all in order. It's implied to be the normal way of doing things amongst Hobbits. Chaos arises because everyone in the Shire believes Bilbo's home hides riches from his adventure in The Hobbit. It doesn't, as Bilbo actually only got two small chests filled with gold and silver (as opposed to the mountains of jewels everyone thinks he has), and he spent most of it in the intervening years. But that doesn't stop people from rummaging around Bag End and trying to get more than their share.
  • In Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Ugly Truth, the narration reveals that Greg's great-grandmother, Gammie, is so old that people have started putting sticky notes on her stuff.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In one episode of Ghost Whisperer, the Victim of the Week had his belongings labeled like this.
  • When Tom has surgery in an episode of Waiting for God, his greedy daughter-in-law insists that everything in his and Diana's apartment be labeled so Diana can't claim anything of his.
  • After one of Niles's co-workers passes away in an episode of Frasier, Frasier gives stickers to Niles and Martin and tells them to label any possessions of his they would like to inherit. Later in the episode, Frasier finds a sticky note on his expensive bathrobe labeled "Niles", and mutters, "The vultures are circling."
  • Lorelei's parents on Gilmore Girls ask Lorelei and Rory to label any items they would like to inherit with Post-It notes. They find this amusingly awkward.
  • Ron Swanson on Parks and Recreation has been carrying his will with him since childhood. It's a scrap of paper reading "All my belongings go to the person or animal that killed me". After Ben tells him that without an actual will all of his assets could go to the government (at the time he was not married and had no children and seemed to have no living relatives other than his elderly—if still badass—mother) Ron decides to get a real one.
  • Facing the possibility of losing her trial and going to prison in the "Queen B." episode of Arrested Development, Lucille decides to take some keepsakes with her but finds that everything in her home has already been labelled by family.
    Lucille: This does not bode well for tomorrow.
    Narrator: Actually, they'd claimed those things years earlier when she was having a sunspot checked.
    • After her fellow prisoners plan to kill her, Lucille finds that the guards and prisoners have labelled her stuff in her cell.

  • In Leftover Soup, Max's will is in the form of an "elaborate post-mortem interactive treasure map on [her] spare hard drive."