Author Topic: 2015 - Getting affairs in order  (Read 3689 times)

Bucky

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2015 - Getting affairs in order
« on: January 03, 2015, 03:32:49 PM »
Happy New Year!   :)

I'm not one to make New Year resolutions - I have the same "resolutions" day in and day out, week after week, month after month, year after year . . . so, no need for a stated new year resolution the beginning of each year.

However, with that being said . . . for a long time, I have kept telling myself that I need to get our family matters in order - what if something happened to my husband and I at the same time?  Where would a person BEGIN to sort through the piles of papers, important documents, bank accounts, etc.?

So, this past week I went to the bank and brought home all the contents of our two safety deposit boxes.  I went piece by piece and sorted through all the contents.  I had several bank certificates (CD's) that I wasn't sure if they were still active, cashed in, or what.   Put those in a pile to check with said banks (many of them were not active - shredded).

There have been many company mergers and name changes through the years.  For instance, the life insurance policy I got when I was 17 yrs. old has since changed names three times!!   :o  So, I wrote on a piece of paper all the changes and the current name of the company.  One less hassle for someone to figure out down the road.

Same thing with bank mergers.

Company stock I got back in the 80's has also had name changes three times!!  Again, I made notes of the various name changes and the current name the stock is held in.

We had various papers from old vehicles we owned that we no longer owned - tossed (shredded).

Pin numbers to old credit cards that we no longer have - tossed (shredded).

Long story short, I went through and sorted everything - grouping together like items - vehicle titles, house papers, bank CD's, birth certificates, etc.  Especially, if the person you have appointed to be Executor of your estate doesn't live in the area and might not be familiar with the companies, and banks you deal with.

Now, if someone outside of my husband or I had to go into our safe deposit box to find out information, they would be able to find everything they need (I hope).  ;)

The only item left that my husband and I have to do is to update our will - as some people on there, are no longer living and we want to change some of our directives.  So, that is on our high priority to-do list for 2015.

If you don't have a bank safe deposit box, then designate a file drawer or somewhere safe to store important papers pertaining to you and your family.

What it boils down to is it is not IF we die, but WHEN we die - hopefully, not for a very long time down the road . . . but, one never knows.

One of the reasons this has become a priority for me is the fact that my dad died unexpectedly in 2013.  We had a lot of work trying to determine if papers were still active, inactive, accounts cashed in, etc.  The two people who knew all this information were deceased.   :'(

So, please don't keep putting it off saying I'll take care of it tomorrow . . . because, tomorrow may be too late.

If you do have papers, information that is outdated - either shred them, or burn them, don't just toss them in the trash as they may contain social security numbers and important information that doesn't need to fall into the wrong hands.

Also, as a side note, as parents, we should have at least one of our children or siblings included on our medical information records - where in an emergency, or in case of death, they would be able to access our medical history, etc.  As I posted once before, when my parents died, I tried to obtain medical records and because I was not listed on their records, and because of HEPA laws, I was denied access.  It broke my heart to walk out of the doctors office with them holding my father's medical file literally in their hands and I couldn't have it or see it.  :'(  Please don't let it happen to you.

Bucky
« Last Edit: January 03, 2015, 06:15:46 PM by Bucky »
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Joe S.

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Re: 2105 - Getting affairs in order
« Reply #1 on: January 03, 2015, 04:26:47 PM »
Boy are you egar.  I am just starting to think of 2015, no thoughts of 2105 yet. Thats almost 90 tears away.
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Bucky

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Re: 2015 - Getting affairs in order
« Reply #2 on: January 03, 2015, 06:17:59 PM »
HA, Joe!  Oops!! Well . . . . you SHOULD plan ahead . . . maybe not quite that far ahead.   ;)
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irish

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Re: 2015 - Getting affairs in order
« Reply #3 on: January 03, 2015, 10:25:24 PM »
Bucky, I know what you are saying.I have had to get things organized many years ago because of my hubby and I both having such lousy health. Prior to his death I got on line and did a search on things that I might need to do before hubby passed away. It was helpful and I made a list and made sure that these things were addressed and "in mind." This was a good thing to do as when he died by brain became even more paralyzed with fatigue and shock.

Another thing I did was to buy a bigger recipe box and put it on the top shelf of my computer desk. In there I used recipe cards and listed telephone numbers the kids would need when I died plus all the policy numbers, etc. Financial info, etc, needed info on home repairs, etc anything that might come up in the sale of property, etc.

My boys have all been in the general area and in and out around here a lot over the years so if one can't remember something another one can. I told the boys about this recipe box and I am now in the process of cleaning up my office and going through all this stuff again. I will be a lot less and easier when I die that is for sure.

This organizing is really a good thing for all of us to do. It is also a way to make sure that we are current with our information. I was so stressed out the last few years of hubby's illness (had to take care of him and me) that the papers didn't get filed. If it wasn't pertinent and didn't need immediate attention I just put it in a pile. I have saved many more copies of things than I need to as I was to tired to make a decision at the time. Now I will have a huge pile of shredded papers and maybe have a weiner roast. Good with all your organization!!!Irish

P.S. Don't forget to go through all the keys that are laying around while you can still ask your hubby.

genko_b

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Re: 2015 - Getting affairs in order
« Reply #4 on: January 04, 2015, 03:45:52 PM »
This is helpful to do, no question.

My husband and I travel a lot, for long periods of time, and each time before we go we update our "important papers" folder, which is a guide to everything our children or whoever needs to know to square things away. We have updated wills, powers of attorney, end of life wishes, list of assets and their locations, and notes on who gets what of sentimental value, not listed in the wills. Plus we have copies of the ID page of our passports and copies of our travel itineraries and contact info. I leave it with my sister or daughter when we are away.

We have not ever had to use any of this so far, knock on wood, but doing the updates when we travel gives us a regular time to update our records.

Of course you could always leave the instructions my grandmother left my mother - take what you want out of the house and light a match to the rest!

Take care,

Genko

Katybarstool

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Re: 2015 - Getting affairs in order
« Reply #5 on: January 08, 2015, 02:34:46 PM »
Genko, I like your grandmother's style - wise woman!

Mrs Bucky, thank you for reminding me about all these important issues. We did have something of a clear out when we moved house last year, but I still have a file drawer that needs sorting out.

My hubby retires in February, and all the papers he has received from insurance and pension companies have reminded us that we are entering a different life stage. Thankfully, after a reunion with an estranged son a few years ago, we arranged to update our wills, so that is one less job to do.

One of my major worries is when something happens to my mum. She's 80 now and has pulmonary fibrosis, but absolutely will not tell us what her final wishes will be. she doesn't own any property, and hasn't any money, so that is not the problem. But, if she won't tell us whether she wants to be buried or cremated, and give any ideas about other issues around that, we could have five siblings with their own ideas, and lots of disagreements. I'm the eldest, and don't relish that.

Irish, you are one of the wisest women I know, and your recounting of your experiences are always very valuable to me. Thank you.

Kathyx   

warmwaters

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Re: 2015 - Getting affairs in order
« Reply #6 on: January 09, 2015, 11:24:41 AM »
My mom, who is very organized, sends me a bunch of paperwork once a  year  which lists her bank accounts, investments, etc. , as well as their health insurance policy numbers, name of the person who does their taxes, and so on.

She and my dad are in their late 70s, and her thought is that if something happened to either of them (either a medical emergency or death), it would be good for me to have access to all this info, so I could step in and help out.  I'm glad to say she's also got the right kind of health proxy and so on to make that happen.

I know she worries because she's always done the money/paper work part of their lives, and my dad would have no idea how to pay the bills or process an insurance document.

So I'm glad she does it. She's not a computer person, so I get these very neat handwritten spreadsheets with all the info.

How did people get so much done before computers?
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Bucky

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Re: 2015 - Getting affairs in order
« Reply #7 on: January 10, 2015, 08:57:18 PM »
Warmwaters - wow, that's great that your mom does that for you.  That will be very, very helpful down the road.

I still think that approaching the delicate topic of death, is hard for people to even think about - so, many families are left in the dark when a death does happen because nothing has been discussed prior to this.  It's not a taboo topic - but, most older people don't want to talk about it - thinking if I don't talk about it, it's not going to happen.  Or, they think if I talk about it, it will hasten it.  :-\

Kathyx - that's too bad your mum won't discuss this important information with you.  I wonder if you mentioned that you and your husband are getting your affairs in order to make it easier for your family, and then you ask her what her wishes are, so you kids can carry out her wishes when the time comes and not have conflicting decisions on what to do with mum. ?? 

That's a tough one when a person doesn't want to talk about it and you will be the one to have to figure it all out later.

genko -  that's very helpful that you leave all the pertinent information behind when you and hubby travel.  IF something came up, that information would be very valuable to have.

I love your grandmother's instructions.   ;)

Irish - that's good that you were able to get things organized and in order for your husband.  When you are in the thick of dealing with all the details at the time of a death, it can be very overwhelming.  Having records in order is a huge help.

Great idea with the recipe box and information in there.

That's another of the things I have started gathering together is all the receipts for big ticket items in the house.  Not only for insurance purposes should something happen to the house, theft, etc., but just to have that information. 

In reference to your comment about keys . . . I hear ya on that one!  My father was a landscaper and took care of several older clients for 50+ years.  His clients would give him keys to their house so dad could go in to water plants and check on the house when they were out-of-town.  Dad had a BUNCH of keys.  Of course, none of them were tagged or anything, so we had no idea who they belonged to.  Nobody that I know of asked for their keys back, so I think my brother just pitched them after dad passed away.   :-\

My husband doesn't have many keys at all - just to the house and our vehicles.

Probably the number one item that took a lot of time to sort through when settling my parents estate was determining if policies were still in effect and who to contact to check on things. 

Bucky
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Bucky

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Re: 2015 - Getting affairs in order
« Reply #8 on: August 08, 2015, 11:03:03 AM »
Hi - It's hard to believe that we're in the eighth month of 2015 already - time is just flying by soooo quickly!

I am happy to say, that just yesterday, we signed all the papers for our updated will, POA for health and property and all we need is a signature from my SIL on a Quit Claim Deed for the house and all those important papers are up-to-date and will go into the safe deposit box at the bank for safe keeping.  Yay - a long overdo project that is now current.

Since I posted this thread in January, I never in my wildest dreams thought that family matters would come to light so quickly afterwards, that really emphasized the urgency to get all these items current and according to our wishes.  (My brother was suddenly dx'd with stage 4b cancer in Feb., and is under hospice care.)

I can't emphasize enough, please, please, please discuss your own wishes, and family member wishes (namely parents), on how you/they want things handled when you/they die.  Again, it's not IF you die, but WHEN you die - as we all die.  Immediately after a death, there is so much that needs to be taken care of, that if we, or the person who is handling the affairs, knows in writing what the persons wishes are, it makes it so much easier all the way around.  Grief is hard enough without all the added stress of trying to figure out what needs to be done with ones property, assets, etc.

On a somewhat different note:  There aren't very many times in life where you can "plan" your funeral and what you want to have done.  In my brothers case, he has done that.  He already has the cemetery plot, and headstone in place. He decided he didn't want a typical visitation at a funeral home, but rather a celebration of life gathering at a church social hall, where stories could be shared, there will be a band playing music (he personally picked out this band and asked them if they would do such a thing, and they said "yes"), where there will be laughter and yes, tears too.

When I last was in town visiting with my brother (we live in different states), he told me his plans and asked if I had any questions I wanted to ask him.  He seems to have all his "ducks in a row", and has everything planned out so when the time comes, his wife won't have those stressful issues to decide, as everything has already been taken care of.

My brother handles all the bill paying, banking, etc., so he has made monthly spreadsheets of what needs to be done, and when, for my SIL so she can pick up and carry on when my brother passes.  He is showing her how to handle all these issues now, and insisting that she handle them now, so if she has any questions, etc., he can answer them for her.  He is so organized . . he amazes me!

Next big project on my "to do list", is to downsize and get rid of things we don't need.  It was so overwhelming sorting through my parents house and 55+ years of accumulated "stuff" when settling the estate.  All of us have way more things than we need to have.  Less is more!

Okay, I'll get off my soapbox now, but I do want to strongly encourage each of you to get your affairs in order.  We are never promised tomorrow and having everything current and up-to-date makes it so much easier for everyone involved.

Bucky
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Carebear

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Re: 2015 - Getting affairs in order
« Reply #9 on: August 08, 2015, 03:59:35 PM »
Bucky, thanks for the update and the friendly kick in the pants.  I am so sorry to hear about your brother.  That is heartbreaking.  He sounds like a very thoughtful man, thinking of others.  Must run in the family.

We completed all our necessary documents a few months ago including Wills, Personal Directives, Enduring Power of Attorney.  Something we had talked about for a long time, but it took your reminder to take the final step.  Next family gathering we will give everyone copies and tell them our wishes.  That should break up the party early.

Our house is what most would call minimalist.  Is that the term??  It's been a slow and steady culling of things for the last ten years.  As I type, I have about six items in the basement that are ready to be sold.  And a small stack of things to be donated.  Not much else to do now except to "maintain" the lack of clutter.

In order to continue to simplify, we are shopping around for a smaller condo.  No outside work.  No garage stuffed with yard tools.  Just big grins when we look outside while it snows.  ;)

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Katybarstool

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Re: 2015 - Getting affairs in order
« Reply #10 on: August 09, 2015, 12:43:31 PM »
Bucky

Thank you for your update. And I am very sorry to hear about your brother too. But, you are right, even though the his illness isn't one we would choose, it is giving him the opportunity to have some control over his affairs,, and make his wishes known.

My mum was diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis about 18 months ago after a nasty illness. Then things stabilised and it was hard to believe she had such a serious condiiton. However, the last few months have been a reminder. Her chest isn't too bad, but she has lost around 30 pounds and is looking so much older than she did last year. It's not difficult to see now that her prognosis is not too good. She has finally accepted that she won't get better, and has accepted that this could be as good as it gets.

The good thing about this though is that we are trying to do things together that she really likes. So, we took her to Spain in February, to a resort we went to often when my children were small. And, weather permitting, on Tuesday, we are taking her to a coastal resort that she used to take me and my siblings to when we were children,40 plus years ago. She will enjoy that very much.

Mum doesn't have any property, savings or debts but she does have life insurance. As I am her next of kin, I have the documentation for that. And gradually, through going to several funerals in the last couple of years, she has given us some insight into how her final service should be. BUT, she won't write anything down, as that makes it too real for her. That could cause some difficulties, should she need anyone to act on her behalf, but I'm hoping my youngest sister, who has been a social worker with older people will work with her before then.

One last thought, mum has never been an easy person to look after, but this last couple of years, I have been trying to be as kind to her as possible. And my siblings are trying to do the same. So, knowing that she has an illness hasn't been all negative, as it has made us appreciate her time with us, which is something we have taken for granted sometimes.

Kathyx