Thursday, March 11, 2010

After I am Gone File

Okay, before I even begin today’s post I want to preface it by saying… I know this is not a fun topic to think about. I understand that for many of us, including myself we would rather spend the day at the dentist than planning for life after we or a loved one is gone. However, having said that, I also want to tell you that while it may be depressing and a little sad to think about… it is very important to think about.

It has been more than a year ago since I received a phone call from a woman who needed the services of my company. She shared with me on the phone that her husband had died in a car accident more than five years ago and she had no idea where anything was in her home office. Needless to say, my heart went out to her and as we scheduled her appointment for a week from that day. I was unsure what kind of situation I would be walking into… but I was not prepared for the impact it had on me both personally and professionally.

When I walked into that office it was as if time had stood still and the only thing that had changed was the amount of mail that had been piled up over the years. This poor woman was lost in many ways because she had no idea how to get into much of the stuff in the office. Her husband’s briefcase lay on the floor next to the desk because she did not have the combination to it. The computer was rarely used because she did not know all of the passwords for their online banking, websites, and filter settings.

Filing was out of the question and she trouble understanding the system that he had put into place which made it hard for her to retrieve a document in a timely fashion. In many ways she had shut down because she did not know where to begin. She was stressed out beyond belief and was feeling a great deal of pressure from family and friends to finally address this room once and for all. She shared with me that it was not because she did not want to deal with it all… she just did not know where to start.

As we worked for days and weeks to transform the piles into files and make some order out of the chaos she opened up and shared parts of her story with me. The one thing that I feel is safe to share with our readers is this one resounding statement, “We were not prepared for this… we were in our thirties. We had not discussed funeral plans, where things were in case something happened… I was lost having to figure it all out myself on top of dealing with the loss of him.”

My heart ached for her and an idea began to form in my head- each of us needs to be aware of the wishes, wants, and whereabouts of our loved ones things after they are gone. As I said earlier, I know it is not happy dinner conversation but it is one that is important to have so that if heaven forbid you ever find yourself in a similar place as this woman… you will not be dealing with these issues on top of your grief.

For months I wondered what the best way to help people have this conversation would be and then one day the idea occurred to me to create a worksheet. It is a simple three page worksheet that you can purchase from our website by clicking here, and it takes you step by step through all of the questions, information, and arrangements that are good to discuss before it is too late. Some examples of the questions on the worksheet are:

Personal information, Social Security Numbers, Location of your Birth, etc…

Contact information for people that someone may need to contact about insurance, transcripts, etc…

Military Service Information

Funeral Arrangement details

Passwords and logins.

And much more…

I challenge each of reading this to download this packet (the best $0.99 you will ever spend) and save it to your computer. Print out a copy for you, your spouse, etc… and fill them out.  Have this hard converstation now!  Then save your completed worksheets in a file labeled “After I am Gone”. You can keep this file in your filing cabinet, a lock box, safety deposit box, etc... Just be sure that you let a few important people know that it is there and ensure they have access to it.

Along with death can come many emotions, your prior preperation and courage to have these hard conversations can help to smooth the way after you are gone.  Families have endurded anger on top of heartache at these times simply because they did not agree on how to best honor the friend or family member that had passed.  Take some of this oppertunity for arguements and hurt feelings away by being specfic in your wishes. 

Not only that but I also challenge you to Tweet, Facebook, and email this post to friends and family members so that we can spread the word about how important it is to plan ahead!  Such a simple act now can make the weeks, months, and years, after you are gone less stressful and more organized for those that are left behind.

Be sure to leave me a comment with your thoughts on this important issue and how you are helping us spread the word on this important issue.

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