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Let’s face it. Stuff happens. We don’t like to spend a lot of time thinking about anyone getting very ill or even dying. Even worse, a long recovery or death can leave the family wondering how to deal with the loved one’s business, home and so on. Wouldn’t it be nice if you organized information to help your family, if you should be incapacitated?
Be kind to your family, your spouse, your choice of executor. Organize your information. It’s now easy and inexpensive to provide an index of important information for those you leave behind. Pinterest has instructions on how to construct an index book, or you can buy one ready-made. Here, have a look at this book.
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Organize information with a planner
The Peace of Mind Planner is a spiral-bound hardcover with tabbed sections of pages in which to organize your affairs. It has tabs for your finances, health, business, pets, assets, and even your social media contact information, to name just a few.
Within each tabbed section the book asks for various kinds of information. For example, under health are spaces to write about your advance directives, your usual doctors and hospital, and your medications and allergies. You can write them in or write where to find the most up-to-date information.
Not everyone needs the business section or the pet section, but this planner has both. Down the line you might start a small business for something to do, or get a dog or cat for companionship. If someone has to close up shop for you, or find care for your pet, they can look up what they need to know.
Finally, in the very back are sections for your last wishes and final thoughts you want to leave people with. You can make sure that the rocking chair goes to the right granddaughter. You can also help the family with putting together whatever funereal arrangements you want done.
No more running around your house trying to dig out all the answers to questions. Your executor would only need to open this book and look up where the will is. He or she could also read your wishes for the funeral (or lack of one), what to do with the pets, and what bills are still out there needing payment. The actual papers like the will, the deed to the house, the title to the car and such, might be in a fireproof safe. And where are the keys to the house, the car, the safe? The book will say where to find them.
Where to keep what’s listed in your Planner
This would be a very nice organized safe to put your important papers in. I may just grab one of these myself, because it holds files. In fact, you could easily organize the tabs to mirror the tabs in the Peace of Mind Planner to make finding documents easier. It has actual keys you could keep in a logical place. No danger of forgetting the combination.
Just imagine having to deal with someone’s password accounts all over the Internet. You can register that information in the book, and stuff the actual password list onto a thumb drive and stick that in the safe. Then your family could close down the accounts you left open.
Imagine you are in an accident, unable to talk, and relatives from out of town come to see you. If they are asked for your primary doctor’s name, your medication list, or advance directives, they can look these things up readily and help coordinate your care for a better outcome. Scrabbling through my father’s place finding answers to questions like that frustrated my brother and me. If he had set up a planner it would have been much easier.
Personal reasons I have a Planner
I have a Peace of Mind Planner. For one thing, we’ve lost some people this year who left problems. Last winter and spring I helped my husband look for papers at my mother-in-law’s home. Sadly, she passed right after Christmas and her lock box was full of outdated documents. The really important things were mostly in other places we got to find on our own.
Then in February a dear friend passed, and nobody could find the key to her fireproof safe. It occurred to us that it would be smart to have a way to keep track of our important papers. After all, if my husband passes, I’ll be too twitterpated to locate stuff intelligently without serious help. If I go first, I leave some complicated things for him too.
For another thing, I’m very glad to have the structure the Peace of Mind Planner provides. Deciding what is important for these dire situations isn’t my strong suit, so I am content to follow along. All the obvious things are covered and they thought of categories I would have missed planning for. There’s enough space in it that odds and ends could easily be added.
Soon I should have enough of my papers located and will get a fireproof box (like the one above) to put them in. Why tempt fate? In Vermont, house fires are not uncommon, especially in winter.
And when I have done my part, I will have my husband put in his own information. Whatever exists apart from mine, that is. Because we have so much overlap we should be able to get along with the one book. That should be a good project for the New Year.
How about committing to getting organized in 2018? Your family and executor will thank you for it someday.