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In Order Blog

Be Prepared for the Unexpected

“Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” – John Lennon

In the first 12 days of January, 8 people I knew died. And no, they were not all old or sick. In the subsequent four weeks, there have been several more deaths and two horrible medical diagnoses.
I am not sharing this with you to elicit sympathy, or to depress you. Rather, I want to encourage you to “get your ducks in a row” because, as I often tell my clients, “you never know when you’re going to step off a curb and get hit by a bus.” As John Lennon alluded, unexpected things happen; when we’re not prepared for them, it makes a difficult situation that much more complex.
Here is a list of just some of the information you should compile, keep in a safe place (but NOT a safe deposit box), and provide a copy to your next of kin, Executor, or BFF (or at least alert them as to the locations).

Important documents:

    o Living Will*
    o Advanced Directive/Medical Power of Attorney/Healthcare Proxy*
    o Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) or Do Not Intubate (DNI) Orders*
    o Durable Power of Attorney for Finances (Many financial institutions require their own form of POA)
    o Other Powers of Attorney
    o Revocable Living Trust
    o Irrevocable Living Trust
    *These may be part of one document if your home state allows, and if recommended by your attorney

    End of Life documents and instructions

      o Last Will & Testament and all codicils
      o Cemetery or Mausoleum Deed
      o Obituary (or information for it)
      o Organ donation (if desired)
      o Funeral or Memorial Service plans
      o Burial or cremation wishes
      o Legacy letter to loved ones

      Key Contacts: Name, Phone, Email

        o Financial Advisor
        o Attorney
        o Accountant
        o Banker
        o Insurance Broker/Agent
        o Spiritual Leader
        o Friends and family to be notified
        o Doctors/Medical Professionals
        o Professional Organizer (especially if they’ve helped you organize and assemble these documents and other important paperwork)
        o Employer/Human Resources contact person

        Financial Information

          o Name and account numbers for all bank accounts; location of passbooks if you have any
          o Name and account number for all investment accounts
          o Name and location of stock certificates (if held individually in paper form)
          o Name and location of any CDs
          o Name, address, and key location for any safe deposit boxes
          o Log-on information for on-line banking
          o Pre/post nuptial agreement(s)
          o Life insurance policy (company, benefit, beneficiary)
          o Log-on information for financial institution, health insurance, and other accounts you access regularly.

          Personal/Biographical Information

            o Full legal name
            o Alternate name(s) if common in your culture
            o Any previous legal name(s) including maiden/birth name
            o Social Security number
            o Date of Birth
            o Birth Certificate
            o City, State, Country of Birth
            o Date/location of marriage
            o Marriage Certificate
            o Date of Divorce/Divorce Decree
            o Country of Citizenship
            o Copy of driver’s license or government issued ID number and expiration date
            o Copy of information page from Passport, including number and expiration date
            o Military discharge paperwork

            Medical Information

              o Current list of medications taken, dosage, and frequency
              o List of any allergies to medications
              o Medical condition list
              o Vaccination list and dates
              o Medical insurance company, policy number. Contact info
              o Medicare/Medicaid number, contact info
              o Medicare Part D company, policy number, contact info
              o Medicare Supplement/Medigap company, policy number, contact info
              o Disability and LTC Insurance (company, policy number, contact info)

              One of my favorite calls was from a long-time client who contacted me shortly after her 75th birthday. She commented to me, “I just turned 75, and it occurred to me that I might die; can you help me put together all of the information my daughter will need?” I helped her assemble all her vital documents, as well as helped create a summary of financial website usernames and passwords. At her direction, we named the file “Upon My Demise.”
              As a nation, we tend to be incredibly optimistic. We say things like “when I win the lottery” and “if I die” when in fact, the latter is a given, the former not so much! Being prepared makes that inevitability much less stressful for your friends, family, and heirs.

              If the thought of assembling all of this paperwork is overwhelming, don’t hesitate to contact us. We can help.