First, Get Organized!
I led with that preface because this installment is going to sound like a downer, no matter how I sugar-coat it. My point is, you need to have your affairs in order for your family, so they can spend their time remembering what a wonderfully thoughtful person you were - without tearing out their remaining hair trying to figure out why you left them such a mess.
Here's what I'm talking about. If you were to die suddenly tomorrow (sorry!), would your family really know enough about you to write a meaningful obituary; would they know what kind of service you wanted, if any at all; and would they know how to reach old or distant friends you'd want contacted right away? I'm guessing "no" for many of you.
Let's head farther into the weeds. Would they know about all your financial affairs? That is, would they know about all your accounts (bank, brokerage, mutual fund, retirement), including account numbers, and how to contact the right people for values and transfer information? Would they know about your current life insurance, if any, including where the policies are kept and whether that dusty old thing from Acme Insurance of Cucamonga is still in effect? Would they know whether you have a safety deposit box; where the key is; and what they might find when they get in there (Al Capone clearly dropped the ball on this one.)?
OK, you get the point. Still, it sounds like a lot of work, right? It probably is the first time around, but pick a rainy Sunday and use the Nike method - just do it! We all have computers now - you wouldn't be reading this otherwise. So input all the information I'm talking about, plus anything else that comes to mind and might be helpful (family Social Security #s, donations in lieu of flowers, who to contact to appraise your cereal box collection). Then, just hit "save" and you're done for now. When anything changes, just tweak the information and keep saving it. Finally, print a copy and leave it in your desk marked "open me first". I'm a nervous flier, so when a trip is looming, I make sure everything is up to date even before packing my suitcase.
If you need a template to use to get started, let me know and I'll e-mail one.
Then, if the unimaginable happens, your family will thank you, as well as miss you, and they won't have to go on an Easter egg hunt just to figure out what you've been up to all these years!
(Posted July 2, 2012)