April 28, 1994, was a day that was totally unexpected. That morning my dad lost his life in a motor vehicle accident. Losing a loved one so abruptly—so tragically—leaves you with no time to prepare, no time to say goodbye. I was reminded of this traumatic time in my life recently when a fellow Weaving mom lost her husband much the same way.
While I didn’t have the foresight to write about my experience as it happened, Raewyn did. I wish I had; I don’t remember much about that week, but I do remember there were plans to be made. These days, planning a funeral can be as much work as planning a wedding—except you only have days to pull it together, instead of months.
Emotions run high and mental capabilities fall short during the days following a death. Trying to make heads-or-tails out of all that needs to be done can be challenging and confusing for even the most level-headed person. Being a mom, I thrive on caring for and nurturing my family, so I would never put them in a confusing situation on purpose. With that in mind, I’ve tried to keep my personal and business files in simple order, so if anything happens to me my family can take care of things in my place.
We don’t know the number of days we have on this earth. Creating a “Letter of Instruction” for those left behind will be a blessing to them. Here are some ideas about what to put in that letter.
Where do you keep your address book, on your phone? Maybe it’s on your computer? Perhaps you have a Rolodex or a file box full of names and addresses? Wherever you keep your contacts, make sure your family knows the location. Besides friends and family members, you’ll want contact info for your attorney, doctor, pastor, employer, insurance agent, banker and stock broker.
Location of Assets
Besides company names, you’ll also need account numbers for things like your checking and savings, real estate holdings, pension, 401K and IRA. If you have a PayPal account, or some other online account where you hold money or stocks, your family will need to have the passwords and IDs to access them.
Wills, marriage certificates, adoption papers, birth certificates and social security cards should all be placed in a safe place to begin with. Does your family know where that is? A list of credit cards and numbers will be needed to close the accounts. All these items, along with insurance papers, should be kept in a secure location that is easily accessible.
Passwords & IDs
Many of the accounts mentioned above will need passwords and IDs to access them. Personally, I have so many passwords and IDs that I choose to keep them written in an inconspicuous place—but my family knows where they are. Many people don’t write down their passwords because everyone says you shouldn’t. I can’t keep them all straight, so I have to write them down—I try to keep my brain free to think about other things, instead of which password goes with which website. It will be easier for your family to close out online accounts if they have your IDs & passwords.
Are there certain people you want contacted if anything happens to you? Do you run a website that will need to be shut down or sold? (If you own a website and the domain is set for auto-renewal, you’ll need that turned off as well.) Are you the Admin for a mailing list or a Facebook group? Besides your password and ID for these places, leave instructions for who should be “promoted” to take over in your place, or who to “give” the list/group to.
All of the above items should be kept in an accessible, safe place, and family members should know where to find them. A large 3-ring binder, a few folders in a file cabinet, or a safety deposit box are a few places you could keep these important papers. Whatever place you decide on, be sure to revisit this Letter of Instruction yearly, so you can keep everything up to date. No one wants to plan for the loss of a loved one, but life happens. With a little preparation, it will still be hard, but it will also be manageable.
© 2013 Kelly
The HOME Writer
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The HOME Writer
This site is dedicated to Becky Avery and her familythe creators of The Weaver Curriculum®. On behalf of all Weaver users, I wish to thank Becky and her family for the sacrifices they have made to help other homeschoolers educate their children spiritually and academically.