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Preparing For the Inevitable


On April 1, 1999, after a one-month illness, my mother-in-law, LaRaine Job, died from an aggressive brain tumor. On April 25, my father-in-law, Ernie Job died of a broken heart and heart disease. We miss them everyday.

Among other things, their deaths taught me about the practical matters that need attention when a loved one dies. I deeply appreciate that Ernie and LaRaine left us good records about their wishes, their investments and their estate.

Life is uncertain. We don’t know when we will die. The following is a list of information that will be extremely helpful for you to leave for your loved ones.

• A will.

• Information about your minor children that would be helpful to their guardians

• An advance directive, living will or document appropriate to your state that indicates your health care wishes

• Organ donor information

• Medical insurance information and forms. Do the providers bill the insurance company directly or do claims have to be submitted?

• Information about your pets, including an immediate care giver.

• A list of ALL of your bank accounts, credit cards, real estate, loans, money owed to you, insurance policies and investments. Be sure to include account numbers. For security, you may want to keep this in your safe deposit box.

• A list of your assets, valuables and collectibles.

• Your special requests for your possessions. Do you want certain belongings to go to certain people? Do you want the rest donated or sold?

• A list of regular services and utilities that will need to be paid or discontinued.

• A list of regular appointments that may need to be canceled.

• A list of subscriptions that may need to be canceled or transferred to someone else.

• A list of the people and organizations you want notified of your death.

• A list where important papers are located. This list should include auto registration, bank records, stocks, bonds, treasury certificates, tax returns, insurance policies, mortgage, property deed, collection inventories, and personal records such as birth certificates and custody agreements.

• Wishes regarding your funeral, services and disposition of your body. Many decisions are difficult to make when loved ones are experiencing grief. Here are a few of the many questions that need to be answered:

     Have you paid for your funeral or any part of it?

     Do you prefer cremation or burial?

     Buried with or without jewelry?

     Viewing?

     Services?

     Headstone?

     Do you have a preference for charity or donations?

• Biographical information to aid in the preparation of an obituary.

• Names, addresses and phone numbers for all of the above information.

In addition, make sure you:

• Add your personal representative or executor to those authorized to open your safe deposit box.

• Organize this information in a file or a binder.

• Tell your attorney and your executor where to find this information. Tell others who you trust.

Most important, talk about your wishes with your loved ones. It is sad to think about losing a loved one, but the fact is, everyone is going to die. Talking about it won’t cause it and not talking about it won’t prevent it. But talking about your wishes will help your loved ones prepare for the inevitable and ensure that your wishes are carried out.

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