August 8 is Dying to Know Day. At least in Australia it is. My Aussie friend and professional organizing colleague, Lissanne Oliver, told me about it. It was started in 2013 by a group called The GroundSwell Project. Their mission is to develop programs that create cultural change about death and dying.
From their website:
Kicked the bucket. Croaking it. Pushing-up daisies. Passed over, on, away. The D-word.
We have no shortage of names for it, but when faced with death we are often lost for words. Our superstitions and fears about dying, and the discomfort we feel, affect our approach and experiences of the end of life. Here at The GroundSwell Project we reckon it’s time for an upgrade on how we go about our dying matters.
9 out of 10 people never tell anyone their end-of-life wishes.
45% of people die without a will.
80% of people express a wish to die at home. 20% get to do so.
What if… we were to create a shift from generalised avoidance to deep engagement and social action?
In honor of Dying to Know Day I have gathered together some resources (many are free, some are not) that are related in some way to death, dying, and preparing for such events.
How to Start the Conversation:
The Conversation Starter Kit – free download from The Conversation Project
Org4life Blog Articles & Products:
Keepsakes: Legacy or Liability? – What are you leaving behind? What have you been left?
Do You Have a Virtual Will? – Who will check your email (and close down your Facebook account) when you die?
Organized Charitable Giving — This is related to dying in that my personal way of honoring loved ones is to donate money to their favorite charity.
Organizing to De-Stress a Major Illness — This was not written with dying in mind so much as to make it easier to focus on getting well. It occurs to me, though, that it would give someone who is seriously ill some peace of mind if they have prepared for the worst case outcome.
Dad’s Kick-the-Bucket Flow Chart – My Dad has since moved to Albuquerque, where one of my brothers and I live. So these are outdated instructions. But the message is the same: Let your loved ones know what you want.
The Keepsake Clutter Flow Chart – 11 page e-workbook module
Paperwork and Life Inventories:
Organizing Your Estate Paperwork – blog post by Heather Ahern
CBDataSystems – paid tool
Everplans – free tool
LifeinCase — document organization systems
The Vital Records PortaVault — paid paper system from securitaonline.com
Touching the Future – Guide and Workbook for Estate Planning and Charitable Giving – free from redcrosslegacy.org
Exit Stage Right – products, services, resources
Make Your Will: A Quick Checklist – free from nolo.com
Planning Your Estate: Helping Your Family Find Important Documents – free from SafelyFiled.com
Digital Estate Planning:
Virtual Estate Planning — blog post by Heather Ahern
Your Digital Afterlife — book by Evan Carroll and John Romano
Creating Your Digital Estate Plan — PDF by Judith Kolberg
Aging & Dying with Dignity:
Good to Go: A Guide to Preparing for the End of Life – book by Jo Myers
Five Wishes — living will from agingwithdignity.org
POLST (Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment) — program available in many states.
A Graceful Farewell – book by Maggie Watson
What to Do When a Loved One Dies:
After a Death Occurs: A Checklist – free from legalvoice.org
What to Do When Someone Dies: Estate Administration – free from exitstageright.com
The Boomer Burden: Dealing with Your Parents’ Lifetime Accumulation of Stuff – book by Julie Hall
The Executor’s Guide: Settling a Loved One’s Estate or Trust – book by Mary Randolph, J.D.
Are you dying to know?
Why not start the conversation with your loved ones today?
And what resources would you like to add to the list? Please leave a comment below!
Copyright 2015 by Hazel Thornton, Organized For Life.
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Great post, Hazel! I can’t believe that 45% of people die without a will! That seems high. I’ve heard the document organizer Life in Case is also really helpful for estate planning.
Thanks, Sarah! This might be an Australian statistic. I’ve read other places that only 40-45% of Americans HAVE a will. Even more unbelievable! I’ve heard of Life in Case. I’ll add it to the list.
Wonderful list of resources to help get the dialogue started. Thanks for including me Hazel! I am all about having this conversation – early and often!
Yes, I hope this helps, and I’m glad you approve! 🙂
Great list of resources! Thanks for sharing.
Glad you find it helpful, Sabrina!
What a great collection of resources, Hazel! Thank you! My husband and I finally made wills and health care directives a few years ago. I was really surprised when I told friends what we were doing how many of them (with more kids and assets than us) didn’t have wills. I’ve know of several situations where the husband has dies without a will and with massive amounts of unknown (to the wife) debt and it has left her crippled. So sad!
Good for you, Andi! That is SO RUDE to die and leave a spouse with surprise debt!!! And what do people think is going to happen with their kids when they die? The state may not see things the way you do.