Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Planning for the Inevitable

So I’m a weird person. I think we all can agree on that.

I mean, I reorganize my clothing closet for fun on a Wednesday night, and I actually order a book called “Death for Beginners” to put my affairs in order at the ripe ole age of 28.

After my father’s death, I realized that I needed to put things together just in case something ever happened to me. Now, my husband is an incredibly smart man but dealing with the affairs of a house while trying to plan a funeral is a horrible thing to put on the shoulders of a surviving spouse. I don’t want him to have to spend hours figuring out which bank account the rent comes from and what bills are auto-paid and which ones have to be authorized. I want an organized transition, as much as that is possible. My dad did that for my mom, and it was really helpful.

However much I thought I should take care of it, I kept putting it off. It’s REALLY hard to think about how your spouse will deal with the affairs of the household when you’re gone. Because, um, you’d be dead. Well, either that, or in a coma or some other awful thing that I really don’t want to think about.

BUT I have to do it. I have to. It’s not fair to leave your affairs in complete disarray.

When my grandma passed in September, she had everything organized. She told my mom where the important file was and even where the “deed” to the family cemetery plot was (it was right where she said it would be, written in 1929 on a piece of cardboard. We loved it!). She had put everything together when she got remarried, because she knew that it would be easier for her family if it was all organized. There’s still a lot to do but at least we know where all the titles are and what kinds of accounts are out there.

So that leads me to my random Sunday afternoon of planning my funeral and organizing my affairs into a “Hit by a Bus File.” I read Death for Beginners: Your No-Nonsense, Money-Saving Guide to Planning for the Inevitable by Karen Jones which is actually an amusing book (and a quick read) that lays out all the options of how to handle your body after your die, what the options are for a funeral and so on. It is kind of a hard read to think about that being YOU they’re talking about burying but I feel more comfortable about the decisions for my final resting place now. I know I’m only 28 and these choices may change, but should I get hit by a bus tomorrow, my husband will not have to remember what song I wanted to be sung at my funeral. (It’s “How Beautiful” in case you’re wondering.)

Because that’s the thing – this book’s website has a full PDF download of a huge planning document. It has a checklist of the different options of burial, cremation, donation to science, all that! It has a place to record which songs to be sung and readings to be done at the funeral. Then, it has pages and pages of prompts to list things like bank accounts, passwords, financial information, what to include in your obituary, who to contact to inform them of your death, insurance information and other information like leases on random properties and more. It is a complete list that printed out, filled out, and placed in an important place (remember to tell someone about it, too!) it organizes all your affairs in a way that won’t burden your loved ones when they are grieving. In the case of a coma or other horrible thing that makes you unable to run your house, it’s also really helpful for someone to know that information to keep your affairs going until you can return to them.

I wasn’t compensated for this, but someone on Twitter asked me to post about it, and I think it’s really important to have things organized like this. Take an afternoon, print it out, and fill in the blanks. If something happens, you’ll feel better knowing that your loved ones can have all the information they need.


  1. Yes. All of this so so so important. A friend of mine just lost his 27 year old wife this past summer. It can happen to anyone at any time. Great post Jess.

  2. That's hard to tackle, but it must give you such peace! XOXO!

  3. What am empowering thing to tackle! I'm so impressed.

  4. Not a great thing to have to think about, but this is good information. Thanks for sharing!