Organizing for Your Legacy

Old-Fashioned Will And TestamentWhat is a legacy?

A legacy is anything left behind when you die. It can be a gift of money or property left to someone in a will. It can be a body of wisdom captured in a published book, or the ongoing good deeds of a non-profit organization that you founded. It could be the wonderful warm memories of friendship and family that never die.

A legacy can also be the consequences of neglect. It could be a house full of clutter that no one knows what to do with. Or the lack of a will and a designated executor, leading to confusion and more money and time being spent on your estate than it is worth.

And if you don’t think you have an estate, think again……

What is an estate?

Your estate consists of both your tangible, and intangible possessions:

Tangible possessions = Your home, your car, everyday items, and keepsakes. Do you have a will? No matter how much or how little you have, somebody’s going to have to deal with it. Probably a loved one who is already suffering your loss. Make it easier on them. Leave a will.

Intangible possessions = Online bank accounts; social media and email accounts; website content; music and photo depositories; and other digital assets. Do you have a virtual will?

This legacy stuff might sound morbid to some, but really it’s just a natural extension of everything I’ve been doing ever since I started my professional organizing business:

I help clients clear physical and mental clutter so they can live the lives they really want.

What my clients say:

“I don’t want to leave a mess for my kids.” OK great! I’m here to help you declutter, downsize, simplify, and organize.

“I’m afraid no one will know which pieces of jewelry, furniture, or art were valuable, or important to me, or why.” Don’t be afraid. Tell them! Write it down. Take some photos and write some notes. I can help you create a home inventory. Then put it away in a safe place and get on with your life.

“I have a digital password manager, but no one else knows the master password.” Tell somebody you trust! They may need it if you are temporarily incapacitated in some way. It doesn’t have to be your death that triggers a need like that. And talking about death won’t kill you, LOL! 

“I’ve done all this family history research, but it’s all a mess of paper files that no one will be able to make sense of.” Organize it! Digitize it! Share it! Ask for help if you need it. Same goes for photos. Don’t die with them on your phone camera. Or, more likely, don’t drop your phone in a puddle and let them all drown. Save your photos!

“I worry about my loved one dying and I won’t know what to do.” Why worry? Take action and find out! Check out some of the resources I listed in a previous post: Aren’t You Dying to Know?

Why not be prepared?

Preparing for the inevitable is just one more way of clearing mental clutter. If there’s one thing you can’t count on it’s that nothing bad will ever happen. But don’t worry, take action! And, no matter what, always believe in yourself.

You may be Organized for Life.

Are you also Organized for Your Legacy?

No matter what you are thinking at this point, having read this, you aren’t alone!

Please share ways in which you feel prepared, and ways in which you don’t, in the comments below.

Copyright 2015 by Hazel Thornton, Organized For Life.
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  1. I’m with Janet … this was a nice reminder for me. In fact, your post helped me get started on a mental list of things that must get the boot. So, now I’m off to get this all out of my head. =)

    • I have a list of what’s important, valuable, or being left to others, and a statement that everything else should be sold or donated. Glad you’re not planning to keep it all in your head!

  2. My husband and I are just starting to work through all of this. It’s important, and one of things that is easy to procrastinate. Great reminder — maybe a New Year’s Resolution?

    • You’re so right about being easy to procrastinate. People put it off because they don’t like to think about death. Also because it’s a big, hard job involving tough decisions. But you don’t have to be old, or sick, or dying for accidents to happen!

  3. Personally, I focused on getting all of my emergency/disaster preparedness “ducks in a row” last year, including a virtual estate plan, a home inventory, and a system for organizing all of our vital documents. I can’t tell you what a difference it has made in terms of my peace of mind (and my husband’s!)

    It’s crucial for all of us to “organize for our demise”! Thanks for raising awareness Hazel.

    • Good for you, Natalie! And what a phrase: Organize for our demise. Perfect for a topic that people avoid, that I am trying to make a little bit fun!

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