If you got hit by a bus tomorrow, what would your loved ones be left with? Happy memories, or sad ones? Clutter and uncertainty? Or clear instructions and valued keepsakes?
What will your legacy be?
Do you have a will?
Just for starters, do you have a will? More than half of Americans don’t. A will is your last chance to communicate with your loved ones. Think of it as a love letter to your family. Don’t miss the opportunity to show them how much you care! Think about how you would feel in their place. Would you rather be left clear instructions? Or no instructions at all? Do you want to burden your family by forcing them to make a ton of decisions on top of grieving your loss?
At first glance this topic might seem morbid to you. I’m calling the whole package of things you can do to prepare for your own death “A Valentine for Your Family” because I’m writing this in February, but it’s also a gift to yourself when you consider the peace of mind that comes with it. I hope you will end up feeling lighter as a result, and better able to enjoy your life knowing you’ve done what you could, while you could, to prepare for the inevitable. Less clutter. More life.
My Valentine to YOU is this updated Legacy Resource Roundup:
Each category contains blog articles, checklists, and other types of resources to help you navigate this sometimes-difficult topic.
- Start a Conversation with Your Family
- Talking about death won’t kill you, LOL!
- Declutter & Organize Your Stuff
- Will your kids view your things as keepsakes or clutter?
- Preserve Your Family History
- Organize your research so it makes sense and doesn’t get tossed when you die.
- Organize Your Photos
- Gather, sort, organize, archive, backup, maintain, display, and share your favorite photos!
- Organize Your Estate Paperwork
- Gather your important documents together, and make sure someone else knows where they are.
- Create a Will (or Two)
- Make a traditional will and/or trust… and a virtual will for your digital estate.
- Plan to Age & Die with Dignity
- Downsizing considerations, end of life care…and funerals.
Since not everyone leaves a tidy estate, here’s another section that will probably come in handy for you:
- What to Do When Someone Else Dies
- Including a checklist.
Click here to view the Legacy Resource Roundup. Focus on one category at a time. Don’t worry that you can’t do it all at once. Like any gift, it’s up to you how much or how little you want to give. Just pick something that’s been on your mind and do it. When you are finished with that, pick your next highest priority area to work on. Ask for help if you need it. If you run out of time, well, at least you died trying! LOL?
Have you had a conversation with your family about end of life matters?
Do you think your family will appreciate your efforts?
Please share in the comments below!
Copyright 2017-18 by Hazel Thornton, Organized For Life.
Social media links directly to this page are encouraged!
Please contact me for other types of reprint permission.
Such great resources Hazel! We made a will about 10 years ago and it is such a peace of mind knowing that all those details are taken care of if something were to happen. I also try to encourage clients to think about what they are keeping and if they want their family members dealing with it once they’re gone. It helps keep it in perspective. Great post 🙂
Yes, some people joke about not caring what they leave behind (I think most of them are masking guilt with humor), but if I’m already working with a client who does cares how much stuff they have, it can indeed help to ask them who will be dealing with their stuff if/when something happens to them.
We went through this process last year. It was a lot of work, thinking through all of the details of inheritance and trusts and executors and all of that. I’m very glad we did it, as the last time we had worked on wills was when my girls were little and we were worried about custody. We are also starting to think about downsizing the “stuff” we own. Some of it our children may still use, but not all of it. I keep trying to get my husband interested in culling through boxes of paper in the attic – so far no luck!
Like any good plan, a will needs to be reviewed periodically. But it’s easier to tweak later than to create in the first place, right? You are a good example that you don’t have to be old and dying to think about these things. Anyone can get hit by a bus at any time!
We’re in the middle of updating our will/guardianship papers and making sure our ‘ducks are in a row’ for the future. Unfortunately, events happen unexpectedly and it’s crucial to be prepared if that day ever comes. Since 9/11, I have more of an awareness of the fact–that anything can happen. I will feel a lot better once our paperwork is completed and signed!
Yes, anyone can be hit by a bus at any time! The trick is to balance the urgency of needing to create a will (and take additional measures to organize a good legacy) with a sense of calmness required to think it through and do it right!
Great post and resources, Hazel! Ditto with Stacey and Seana. We’re also in the process of updating our wills etc… It was pretty traumatic the first time around, doing it when the girls were young. But this time it just feels like part of what it means to be an adult. And as you said, a very loving thing to do for your family.
Hi Linda! You’ve reminded me…like any good plan, it needs to be reviewed from time to time to see what’s changed and what needs to changed. I’ve got a will, but haven’t looked at it in quite awhile.
My husband and I created our wills last year. It wasn’t a glamorous afternoon date, but it felt good to do. Thanks for bringing up the tough issues and reminding us they’re not so scary, Hazel!
Hi Sarah! I find that MOST unpleasant tasks turn out to be not as bad (or scary) as anticipated once I’ve planned my approach and taken the first step!
My family probably won’t appreciate the process we took to set up the will. But, when they see friends struggle with what to do with their parents’ things, they will really appreciate that we took the time to do it.
Yes, it’s hard to appreciate (anything, really) until you actually see someone struggling.
After talking about it for years, hubby and I finally got our wills done last year. It was way easier than we expected! Next on our list: prepaid funerals.
Yay! Good for you. Onward and upward.
Tons of info in the Legacy Resources Roundup, Hazel. Thanks! I will be bookmarking. Great reminder for me to check my will to see if it needs updating. Then organizing my digital estate will be next on the list.
Yes, even if we’re all set our plans need periodic reviewing.
These are great resources. The peace of mind of having a will and planning for your legacy is so important. I will be sharing this post with my organizing clients… this is something everybody needs to do!
Thanks, Nancy. I hope it helps your clients, too!
Thanks for all this helpful information and encouragement, Hazel! I pulled out my “Important Papers” notebook & realized it needs updated in several categories. So that will be my March project!! I had not considered a digital will–but I do I have all my usernames & passwords in one address book. Time to update that too!! I will definitely share with my clients.Thanks also for sponsoring this month of Professional Organizers Blog Carnival!!