Will you have the responsibility of a parent or for anyone who is the financial or household manager of a relationship? If so, will that information be passed on when it’s needed?
A good friend of mine knew that her husband was dying, but she was totally unprepared for her own emotional reactions, which influenced her ability to function. A successful businesswoman in her own right, she was paralyzed when it came to the simple task of going to the bank and opening a checking account for the estate. Everyday tasks became formidable: Food shopping and going to the cleaners became major events. She even was challenged to go out of the house.
Her story is not unusual.
According to a Harvard Medical School publication, “Up to 50% of widows and widowers have symptoms typical of major depression during the first few months after a spouse’s death … A 2006 review noted that 15% of people are depressed at the one-year mark.”
A written record of important information will give survivors and executors the confidence to face the future in an organized manner, and to help navigate through many unknowns.
What should be recorded?
- Desired funeral arrangements including if a prepaid plan exists or not, anatomical gifts, the reception, calling hours, the obituary, appointing a house manager, what happens at the funeral home and with clergy
- Whom to call and when upon death
- Where to get money to pay bills; how to transfer money from investments to a checkbook; who should handle this in the future
- Investment accounts, reports, and advisors
- Legal papers and evaluations you might need later
- Location of paid and unpaid bills – especially taxes
- Financial information including sources of income, assets and current and recurring bills
- Professionals to meet with – attorney, accountant, and any other professional advisors
- Information about checking, credit, and ATM card accounts – which to cancel and/or transfer to another name and which not to and why
- Lease data for car and phones
- Whom to call for insurance that is carried for life, auto, medical and possibly long-term care and personal liability
- Medical data – the names and phone numbers of doctors and medications
- Whom to contact for home and appliance repairs – contact numbers and records of appliance models and serial numbers
- Information on your house – the location of important papers such as house purchase, deed, alarm code, the location of emergency shutoffs and who has keys to the house
- And while computer and software passwords are obviously important, so are the answers to security questions and how to get help for both your hardware and software problems
My Family Record Book, by Harris N. Rosen will prompt you through these issues – and many more. The book, available on Amazon, also addresses downsizing, where and how to get rid of stuff and instructions on how to locate anything in your house. To lighten the experience, the book contains appropriate cartoons.