Who gets the cat if we die before he does? Why am I leaving money in my will to a theater that produces outdated plays for outdated people? Why are the deceased still on my list of inheritors? And would it be a good idea if we gave the executor of our estate a copy of our will and a key to our front door, or should we leave it to him to kick it in?
As we get older, we need to consider these questions or ones like them every few years as part of what is known euphemistically as “putting your house in order.” The truth is that the literal act of getting your house in order is a lot simpler than updating your personal records, putting together a list of people to invite to your funeral, and drafting an obituary. The latter belongs in the, “Who wants to think about this stuff now, I’ll get to it later” category of things to do.
My husband and I are talking about it only because a tour company is asking us what we want done with our bodies if we’re killed overseas. Actually, the tour company only requested emergency contact information. I tend to overdramatize, but that’s because the first thing that comes to mind when putting ‘traveling’ and ’emergency contacts’ in the same sentence is, There’s nothing anyone here could do if we got sick there — wherever “there” might be — so they must really be asking, What do we do with your bodies if you decide to run with the bulls, climb without oxygen, or overindulge on the native cuisine?
My solution was to ask some very well-prepared friends for advice. Regrettably, they gave it and now we have a lot more work to do than we did when we were only occupied with wringing our hands. It just occurred to me that there might be another way to tackle this. We could invent some emergency contacts and let them worry about the bodies.
My advice: Visit a lawyer, and get wills, trusts, and advance directives. Let your children know. Keep copies of all your Internet passwords and user names accessible, including how to get into your computer and phone. Put your spouse’s name on your financial accounts so he/she can get instant access to them. Show your spouse or significant other where you keep important papers and files, your filing system. Write your obituary ahead of time. Do that stuff now that you’ve wanted to do; don’t wait until you’re too ill.
Thanks, Marc. We’ve done the first three, but have no kids, which complicates things a bit. I hadn’t thought of the internet passwords and user names, though. Ann
The NYT had a great article about taking down one’s virtual presence. Who will close out your email account? Who will take down your Facebook page? Who will tweet the last tweet from your twitter account? And of course you need to provide account passwords to your designated executor in order for him or her to fulfill the obligation. Some survivors are deciding to keep a deceased relative’s FB page or personal website active, so others can post memories or alert the page members to memorial events. It’s all very complicated and not entirely within our control unless we leave specific instructions with loved ones. Another complication of modern life!!
If you’re a fan of the dalai lama shouldn’t you know that life is about living current life the fullest, be prepared to leave and give up everything when you leave? imho you’re overly worried. 🙂
Yeah. That’s why he’s the Dalai Lama and I’m the “foolish being full of blind passions.” (Shinran Shonin)
It’s all in the mindset. But as long as you’re happy now I don’t think you need to be enlightened….lolz 😀