I recently had the pleasure of presenting to a large group of seniors and senior service providers at the Park Shore, a wonderful 62+ community in Seattle’s beautiful Madison Park neighborhood. www.parkshore.org
My co-presenter, the Director of Sales & Marketing for the Park Shore, shared information about the different types of senior communities including buy-in, month-to-month and the varying levels of care and services offered across the industry. He discussed the importance of not just thinking about what you need now but what you may need in the way of support or care in the future.
This got me to thinking not only about planning for senior transitions, which is always top of mind for me, as it is a large part of our business, but about everyone preparing for life’s what-ifs. Having recently experienced personal tragedy, I’m here to tell you that there’s no preparing for many parts of the loss of a loved one. But taking care of some business can really mean the world of difference when something unexpected –bad or good—crops up in your world.
If you became infirmed or worse, would anyone in your life know where to find important papers and information that may need to be accessed quickly?
Designate a safe place (preferably a fire safe) for important papers: Wills, Durable Power of Attorney, Healthcare Directive, Insurance Documents, Deeds, Titles, Copies of Birth, Adoption, Marriage and Death Certificates and then tell someone trusted and close to you where they are located and how to access them. If you don’t have any of these items, PLEASE put it at the top of your priority list to get them. Trust me: the loss of a loved one is hard enough without having to cope with digging through paperwork or worse, legal wranglings in the midst of coping with your grief.
Make a list of passwords for important accounts and either keep that in a secure place with your important papers, save to your computer or send to a trusted friend or relative in a password protected file. Make sure the password is somewhere safe but available to your trusted person.
To make sure that you have the paperwork that you need, you should consult an estate planning attorney. Here are a couple of links that will give you a general overview. Everyone’s situation is different so I’d highly recommend investing in legal advice to make certain that you and each of your loved ones over the age of 18 have their paperwork in order.
CB Data is software program that helps to collect every bit of important information about your life and your business. The system may not be necessary for you but there’s some good information on their site and they offer a free emailed list of recommended documents and information to gather. CB Data’s Website
Gathering these papers is not a fun thing, by any means, but it’s definitely a sleep better at night thing and a scratch it off the worry list thing not to mention, it could be a gift that you give to a loved one when they are faced with a very difficult life event.
If I were face to face with you right now, I’d ask you to shake my hand and promise me that you will put the following item at the top of your to do list: Gather and Organize Life Documents.
If you don’t do it for yourself so you can scratch it off the worry list and sleep better at night, do it for your loved ones. The holidays are coming. Consider it the gift of a lifetime!