I got a semi-sobering e-mail from my dad the other day. It included a list of his insurance policies and accounts so that I and my oldest sister could have that should they, as he put it, “head off on that long cruise.”
I don’t like to think of life without my parents. I’m at a point in my own life where I don’t need them, of course, but… I still need them. Maybe a more accurate way to put it is that I still want them. My dad is still the very first person I look for when I just need to talk. My mom is simply a treasure. And my kids simply adore them.
So getting that e-mail was a reminder that they–heck, any of us–won’t be around forever, and that there is surely a reason to spend some of your life living now and enjoying those you love.
But that is not the purpose of this post….
Getting that e-mail from my dad was very comforting because it proves how much he loves me and my siblings. It shows that he loves us enough to take the trouble now to put his own life in order in a way that allows us to handle his passing easily at least from that financial side of life.
I have a good friend at work whose dad recently died, and I’ve watched him over the last six months as they’ve tried again and again to figure out where this account is, who owns that, where’s the mortgage, where’s the car payment, who has the life insurance, who are the beneficiaries. Such a burden took away his ability to grieve and celebrate his dad. I’m glad that my own dad won’t leave me with those burdens.
If you haven’t yet, create what Dave Ramsey calls a Love Drawer. It’s a drawer or file or something that has in it all of the important documents, accounts, passwords, and so on that someone would need to handle your estate should something happen. The Love Drawer I have started for my wife even includes some brief instructions. If I were to die, Courtney is going to cash our main life insurance policy, take some of it to live on, put the rest in a short-term CD so that she doesn’t make a grief-based decision, and turn her financial life for the next six months over to one of our best friends and a man who is completely capable of handling our estate as I would have.
After six months, Courtney will be in a much better place to handle life going forward, and she’ll have the wise counsel of that good friend to help her. If that ever happened, it’d be the last gift I gave to her, and it’d be a good one.
If you haven’t yet, make your love drawer, and tell your spouse. Tell your dad. Tell your best friend. Find someone you trust above all else and give them access to the file. Make sure that should the worst come to pass, your family and those you love have the means to immediately pick up the pieces. And most of all, don’t leave them scrambling around for months trying to track down things that only you knew.
One more thing…. get your will done. Today. And get it notarized. A non-notarized will is just a piece of paper, and it will not stand in court. No chance. Once you get your notarized will (and get several official copies while you’re at it), distribute them as you deem fit. Many cities and counties will record your will in their archives if you desire where it will be safe and secure until it is needed.
Trust me: It’s might be morbid and uncomfortable to think about, but making your will and your love drawer is the single greatest gift you can give your loved ones should you die.