Planning for the Inevitable

Soapbox time. Dealing with paperwork and more paperwork.

In October 2005, as my Mom was in her final days, I urged Jane and Mom to create a Living Trust, to get all their affairs in order to make it easy on anyone (us) left behind, to make sure that all their paperwork was up to date and easy to access. As my stepdad and I were sifting through writing letters, closing accounts and the things Mom never thought he'd be dealing with (he was the sick one, after all), I must have repeated it several times.

Instead, nothing was in order and several policies had the beneficiaries changed to my (at the time) 82 year old mother in law. Stale dated insurance reimbursement checks were never deposited, forms requiring completion and a notary's signature never filled out or returned. Questions about whether things were handled thoroughly when Ed's sister Nancy passed away in 2005 now fill my brain.

So please, for your families, make sure your paperwork is in one place. Spend a few bucks at an office supply store to get a folder and mark it My Final Wishes (or ours for couples).

Make sure all funeral wishes, cemetery plot paperwork and related stuff is in there.

If you have insurance polices, put them in there. Review them from time to time to make sure you don't have a deceased person named as beneficiary, because then family has no choice but to establish an estate in your name-which takes time and money and a lot more legwork for them.

Make sure a few family members are aware of where this information can be found.

If information changes, a policy is cashed out or stocks sold, take them out of the envelope OR put the related purchase and sales receipt together in that folder so that people aren't confused when they find four and five conflicting documents and have to try to figure out which is the correct one.

Your family loves you, don't they deserve a little bit of your time organizing things now to make things easier for them when they're missing you most?


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