Friday, January 22, 2010

Are You Prepared?

Having recently spent over a week cleaning, sorting, donating and gifting my brother’s stuff, I had an exceptional “in your face” lesson about how important it is to plan our exit at least as well as we plan our lives. This chore just reinforced the message of how important it is for us all to be prepared.

None of us want to think about our own morality so we tend to not get organized; it is critical that we do. Even if we don’t think we have any heirs there is a still a need to take care of this stuff. It is very hard on whoever has to go through all your papers and stuff to find all the pieces of the puzzle.

In my Brother’s case he didn’t have children or exes and his estate is not very big, but he had a lot invested in collectibles and there is no indication of how he wanted to share it. Unfortunately, there is also no inventory to go along with the collections. This oversight leaves someone with a big project of evaluating and sorting and purging. A simple list or even the original purchase receipts shoved in an envelope somewhere would lessen the stress of this challenge. Not only will this be a monumental chore, it will keep the loss up front and interfere with a healthy mourning process.

Although a legally executed will would be the best choice of documentation, simple lists or notes can serve well to take some of the strain out of the project. The lists can assure that you are able to share with your friends after you have gone in the same ways you would if you were still around. Sharing your wishes with others is the extra special gift you can leave for the ones you love.

And keep in mind that not leaving a valid will forces heirs to have to deal with probate and courts. The government gets lots of money and the family gets lots af anxiety and heartache. Do you really want to leave this legacy? Acting now is much easier than having your family re-act later.