Written by: Joe Fiduccia
Inevitably the day will come when we say our final goodbye. And when we do, all of our life’s belongings and anything else we leave behind will become the responsibility of someone else.
But in the myriad of important financial, legal, and other personal documents, along with the countless organizations we may belong to and online accounts we maintain, it can become quite difficult to provide a sense of structure around it all.
Many people think of a Last Will and Testament as being the one and only thing we need to worry about when finalizing our affairs. In a way, that might be accurate. But that’s as long as it mentions anything and everything that is pertinent to your life in some way. And when you start thinking about it, the list of topics to consider quickly becomes dizzying.
That is why we have created a free checklist for our members of over 60 common things you should collect, organize, secure, and/or archive when planning for your final day. And if you are looking for some guidance on how to finalize your affairs, here are three items we would like to suggest starting with:
1. Have you provided detailed information on funeral requests and/or prepayment of funeral arrangements?
Sometimes we avoid discussions like these because it makes us feel uncomfortable, and many of us believe the ones we leave behind will automatically know what to do for your funeral. But failure to provide adequate instruction on exactly how your funeral should be planned and where your final resting place should be can cause tension in your family, and potentially do more harm than good.
2. Have you personally documented your medical history?
Without getting into the legalities of how your medical inormation will be disseminated to your next of kin, far too often this goes overlooked. But speaking from personal experience, knowing the details of your medical history (allergies, hereditary problems, etc.) can mean the difference between life and death for the loved ones you leave behind. So whether it’s through a Footprint or some other means, it is important to leave something behind that provides as much as possible about your medical history.
3. Have you created a secure list of user names and passwords for all online accounts?
(financial, social media, online forums / communities etc.).
It goes without saying that most of your important online accounts (e.g. bank accounts, credit card accounts, etc.) should at least be mentioned in a Last Will. But sometimes we overlook the less important ones, like social media profiles and online communities we belong to.
So the question then becomes, “what exactly should your next of kin should do with any accounts you leave behind?” For example, Facebook recently announced that your account will stay on their server forever, acting as a digital memorial of your post history. Is this something you’d want? Or would you prefer to have your account deleted? That is why detailed Instructions on what to do with ALL of your online accounts, and the names/passwords needed to get into them, should be something you consider.
In closing: these three questions above are simply provided to help steer you in the right direction, but by no means do they represent a complete checklist for end-of-life planning. They can give you a starting point on which to build on, and perhaps may be just enough for those who don’t want to feel too overwhelmed in an attempt to get their affairs in order.