As I write this article on preparing for the future, I can’t help but think how many of us are in a similar situation. I realize there are many things out of our control and that we should not even worry about them, but the one thing we can control is making sure we have all the information we need about our friends and family upon their deaths. This is definitely not one of those topics which we like to talk about, but being prepared will save a lot of time and stress when we have to take care of all the financial matters that come with this stage of life. This pertains to all ages – you may have parents, elderly relatives, or friends for whom you are responsible, and/or you may have children, siblings, or friends that need to know about your information.
For those of you who have been following my articles, I have a 95-year old father who lives at home with full-time help now. We are very lucky that he is mentally acute, so getting all this information together, although a little challenging, has not been as difficult as it could have been had he not started compiling all this information many years ago.
My father started his list that he called his “autobiography”. It was type-written and included the following:
- His birthdate, social security number, home telephone number, email address (even though he is not on his computer anymore), password, user name, driver’s license number (even though he is not driving anymore), and passport number with the issue date and expiration date (even though he is not traveling anymore).
- His credit card names and numbers.
- His health insurance policies and numbers (both Medicare and supplemental medical, as well as long-term care) and all related contact information such as addresses and phone numbers.
- His homeowner’s insurance policy number and contact phone numbers.
- His life insurance policy numbers and contact phone numbers.
- His banking and other financial information, including account numbers and contact phone numbers and addresses. This includes the safety deposit box number and where the key is located.
- His accountant’s name and contact information.
- His lawyer’s name and contact information.
- And, last but not least, the cemetery information.
You would think I would be totally prepared for when the time comes, but believe it or not, I have been putting an inordinate amount of time in now making sure I understand everything and what I am going to have to do in the future. I realize I am very fortunate my father is around to guide me through this maze. Could I have done it without him? Without a doubt, but it would have been that much harder and certainly at a time when I am going to be very sad. We have also begun talking about real estate agents when we have to sell the house, people who do appraisals on those items that have value, and clean-out companies for the “junk” (that which cannot even be donated). I already know I am going to use http://phillyjunk.com/.
My father typed his information out. You can create an Excel spreadsheet to include this information. You can even hand-write this on paper.
In addition, there are products available that really have helped a lot of people keep this information organized. A couple of my colleagues recommended a workbook and CD by Maggie Watson called “A Graceful Farewell” (http://www.agracefulfarewell.com/index.htm). Something that has been developed with instructions may be what you are looking for or need. But, whatever you use, use something.
One other thing I’d like to mention is that if you do not have to do this alone, don’t. You may have siblings, other family members, and/or friends who are involved. If possible, decide who could be doing what. This can help so it doesn’t all have to fall on your shoulders. Of course, it is easier if everyone lives in the area and you all get along, but it might be useful to at least have the conversation. You won’t know until you try.
These are not fun conversations to have, and when we do, I always ask my father if he is going somewhere soon (he tells me no). It is part of being a responsible adult. I now know that I have to get my own information organized as well for that person who needs to do for me what I am doing for my father.
READY, SET, GO From Bedlam to Brilliance!!!
BB’s Clutter Solutions is located in Cherry Hill, NJ and serves New Jersey (north and south), Philadelphia and its Pennsylvania suburbs, and New York City. Contact information: www.bb-clutter-solutions.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, 856-912-0077.