Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Ten Things To Do "Just In Case" You Die

 Cheery, no? There are few things in life that get your attention more profoundly than watching your life spin out of control in a runaway car. When the worst is over and you're back on your feet, you think of common sense things you should have done sooner - but didn't.  I won't make that mistake again.

Here's my list of things that really should be done pronto. Some I can check off. Yay!  I'm pretty good about telling others how I feel and keeping the love lines going in relationships, but the practical things?  That's another story.  I am the world's best procrastinator.

 10 Things to Do "Just In Case" You Die

  1. Make a will. Make it specific. Think about it carefully. You don't want the State or a distant or unstable relative having a yard sale with your fondest memories. Your personal writings and sentimental items need to be given to the family members you specifically want to have them, with instructions on what to do with them. You might not want certain things sold. You might want them kept in the family. (My piano comes to mind.) After you've cleaned and organized your home, take a picture of every corner of your house or make a video. Write down, room by room,  what is where and what you want done with it. Put this document in your will and in your safety deposit box.

2. Plan your funeral. Pick a plot. Pick a plan. Start an installment plan if you have to, but don't make your family spend time dealing with details and decisions in the midst of a loss.

3. Change any beneficiaries you need to on all bank and insurance policies and talk with a financial advisor.

4. Get a safe deposit box at the bank. Put all your online passwords, duplicate keys, precious valuables, your will, legal papers and anything else you'd want others to find quickly to help settle your estate.

5. Keep your emails and online accounts, including blogs and Facebook accounts, cleaned up and organized in files and/or in online storage. Give your passwords to someone you trust and ask them to delete whatever you didn't have time to.

6. Clean and organize everything in your home.
How would you want your house and car to look if someone walked in right now? Write down where things are located in your home (what's in the attic? basement? secret drawers and spaces?) Label things clearly.
And honestly, it makes me cringe to think that someone could have walked into my house that day. It was not a good time to have unexpected company! Just sayin'....

7.  Make duplicate copies of your social security card, driver's license, insurance cards. You might end up losing them in an accident. Others will need that information.

8.  Photographs should be digitally uploaded and saved to an external hard drive - often. Everything on your computer that you want kept alive should be saved there as well. Designate who gets which pictures. Don't forget about those old family videos. Think about the personal consideration of exes and children and even grandchildren to come. When you're gone, leave a trail of memories for those who didn't have a chance to meet you. Say what you want to say to them.

9. GET RID of anything you don't want a stranger or family member to see.

10. Do you want to bury or cremate your blog? You have to decide. Designate a trusted friend to take care of this for you. Tell them what to do with posts you want to stay infinitely online and what to delete.
Write a last blog post yourself and have them post it.

This is Mimi Pencil Skirt reporting LIVE (thank GOD!!!) one more time. Have a nice day.

Oh. One more thing. I hereby leave my precious Homer to all of you. 
He likes Cheetos for breakfast.


Jean-Luc Picard said...

Good advice there

Barbara said...

great reminder! thanks!

Jamie said...

Wonderful advice that I am truly glad you didn't need to use. Now do the list for if you are still alive but not able to act. The lists overlap somewhat but that "designated driver" is really, really important.

Red Shoes said...

Yes, all great and valid points!!

Especially the funeral/service planning.... I want to be cremated and have my ashes dumped at the base of one of The Mittens in Monument Valley... Not a bad place to spend eternity, I don't think.

Of course, I am hoping that you are no where close to taking this journey... ;o)

So much still to do... so many places yet to go...


NedHamson said...

Cheetos - crispy - puffs - flaming hot? I like the crispy ones. Puffs are not dignified. Flaming hot is OK but Homer will then have red lips all day long. The advice is great - have you - grin - done all of them?

bobbybegood1 said...

Really not fun topic. But funny.

Mimi Lenox said...

Sue Greer-Pitt just said on Facebook: THANKS SUE!

Mimi, # 4 is BAD's good to have a safe deposite box, but the things you list are exactly the things NOT to put in lawyer explained that in most states, most banks automatically freeze access to safe deposite boxes on the... death of the holder (even if it is jointly held by a married couple and certainly if it is held by one person). A better solution is a fire proof "safe" located in the home. Copies can go in the safe deposite box, but originals need to be more accessible.

Mimi Lenox said...

Mo Pittman added - I will add #11. This I learned the hard way after dealing with my grandmother's last year and funeral.
Create a living will in case you cannot be in charge of your medical decisions if you are incapacitated. Designate a medical power of attorney -- and ONLY ONE PERSON. If something happens to that person, select another one ASAP. But don't make it harder on the medical staff by having to get two separate people's permission.
Make sure your wishes are spelled out in legal terms, in regard to what would happen if you were not able to make medical decisions -- and KEEP THEM UP TO DATE. One problem we had was that my grandmother drew up her living will in Texas in the 1990's and then was in a nursing home in Illinois in the late 2000's. There was too much ambiguity in the living will, and we ended up with a nursing home doctor in Illinois who did not think a feeding tube was an extraordinary measure to keep my grandmother alive.
The bottom line: make sure that YOUR wishes will be followed to the letter, in case you are unable to make decisions due to unforseen medical reasons. This is a good lesson for everyone, and I need to practice what I preach and get this done for myself, too!

Mimi Lenox said...

Jean-Luc & Barbara - A lot to think about. Life is soooo complicated.

Jamie - The Living Will is a point I left OUT that should have been included. There could have been 20 or more things to do. I had to stop somewhere.
Great advice.

Red- That sounds lovely in a not-so-lovely kind of way. Ashes...mountains...mittens.
I don't know about the cremation thing. I think I prefer an above ground tomb.
What else did you expect me to say?

Ned - Of course I haven't finished ALL of them but I'm working on it. Procrastination is my middle name.
Homer will break out in hives if you feed him hot flaming cheetos.
silently marking Ned off list of potential Homer recipients

P.S. However, feeding an invisible dog should be easy.
I do it all the time.

Mimi Lenox said...

Bobby - I threw in a little humor there, but no, it's really not funny.
We all have to go sometime.
I'm getting sooooo morbid these days.

Shannon W. said...

Great advice Mimi. I dont agree with number four but that is a personal choice.

Also, people do need a living will. If you are unable to make medical decisions then someone will be able to make them for you :)

Christine said...

My late mother-in-law kept all her important papers (the ones that shouldn't be in a safe deposit box) in a waterproof, ziplock bag. In the freezer. Fire safe and the kids knew right where to find it.
Great advice, Mimi. Hope you're doing well.

Akelamalu said...

All good advice Mimi. Our youngest son has recently drafted a new will for us, very specific. We intend to organise our funerals and pay for them in advance sometime soon. MWM is digitising all our photographs too.

Sarge Charlie said...

Holy crap, I need to get started on this stuff........

The Gal Herself said...

In Illinois, anyone with a death certificate and a key can get into your safety deposit box -- SUPERVISED -- for a "one time will check." I was assured of this by both Chase (the bank where my safety deposit box is) and my lawyer. I got a little squeamish after 9/11. (Being evacuated from a tall building that morning will do that to you.) A home safe would be pulverized, and I wanted my ORIGINAL will in a lower level, safe vault, and now it is. And my sister has a key.

So with all due respect to Ms. Pittman, it's always good to talk to your lawyer and your bank about these things.

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