“What happens after you leave this world and pass on into the next one, whatever that may be? That depends on you! I’m not talking about what happens to your remains or whether or not there is an afterlife. I’m talking about what happens right here on earth after you depart.”
You should care about this, Forbes says, in its recent article, “What Will Really Happen After You Depart?”
No, not just because it’s the right thing to do and not just because you’re curious. It’s because you want your family to remember you for the awesome legacy you plan on leaving, not because of the horrible hot mess you left behind that they spent three years trying to figure it out, while trying to live their lives.
Estate organization is not the exact same thing as estate planning. An experienced estate attorney or elder law attorney can help you draft your will, your advance directive, your power(s) of attorney and a trust, if you need it. Your attorney most likely also has a copy of those documents.
However, the attorney has no power over what you do with your original estate planning documents, once you leave their office.
One idea is to develop a guidebook or “game plan” for your family and loved ones, while you’re alive. It’s known that there’s a strong correlation between how we face death and prepare our families—and their ability to survive, adjust and start the recovery process. Organizing your estate has been called a “gift of love” that goes far beyond when you can be around to take care of your family.
Answer these questions to start the estate organizing process:
- Does a family member know where to find your advance directive, if you end up in the hospital?
- Where are your legal documents and who in your family knows where to find them?
- Who has access to your bank accounts and knows your login data?
- Are you now caring for someone? Who’d assume that responsibility, if you’re unable to do so?
- Have you made final arrangements for your death, funeral and burial or cremation?
- Who knows about the plans and where the paperwork is located?
- Where are your insurance documents, and who knows where to find them?
- Who’ll take care of your pets, when you are no longer able?
Lastly, keep in mind that creating the plans and organizing documents is only half of the task. You also need to communicate. The more you’re able to communicate your wishes and what you have organized to your family, the more love you’re showing them while you’re around to enjoy each other. They will also be better prepared to grieve in a good way, embrace your memory and move on with their lives.
Reference: Forbes (September 13, 2018) “What Will Really Happen After You Depart?”