Today’s post is about getting your things together. I can’t stress enough how important it is to consolidate your important papers: legal documents, bank records, healthcare records, what you want to happen to what you own, down to how you want your funeral to go. I spoke with Debbie Vaughn from Life Enrichment Center who is an expert on this topic. There is always the need to pre-plan and make sure that your documents are where they need to be, and that all of your information is up to date to ensure that no one – not you or your loved ones – are saddled with issues when it becomes too late.
Debbie Vaughn sat down with me to talk about what I like to call the “Get it Together” workbook, which is a binder-like book that you can compile with all of your important documents and other files that you might have never considered consolidating.
What do we mean when we say “Get yourself together?”
First of all, that’s the reason we have Journey. It’s a coalition of different agencies like Life Enrichment Center, the Senior Center, and Care Solutions to do that so you can put all your documents in one place. What I found to be interesting was before I found Journey, my mother had pancreatic cancer. We knew she was going to pass and it was a waiting game, but not one of us three children thought to ask her where the insurance policy was. But then when she did go to meet the Lord, we were like, “Oh gosh, where would she put it?” We had to be detectives and think like she would. We tore her little apartment apart until we found it, and that’s what made it seem real to me that I didn’t want to put my son through that. I wanted to put everything in place so that my son would know exactly where everything was.
And it’s important to remember that it’s not only death. If something were to happen – say I had a stroke or an illness and could not speak for myself, this book can speak for you. It can tell my son such as who I would use as my plumber, who I would use as my carpenter, people that know my house. He might not know the people that come to my house and work on it on a regular basis. You know how it is, if you find a good plumber, carpenter, or electrician, you want to use the same ones you know, love, and trust. Same thing goes for the doctor – I want him to know what doctors I prefer. So that tells him exactly who to go to and you can slip their business card right in this folder for him to consult if something happens.
How is this folder organized?
It has several copies of what you need because this is a work in progress. Things change. There’s a section on medications, for instance, but the medications you took 6 months ago might not be the medications that you’re taking now. You can make copies of these so you can keep it updated. It’s sort of like a hobby, in a way; keep putting your information in as it changes.
Bottom line is your kids might fight over what you want. You have a chance to tell them right now on paper how you want the last years of your life and beyond to go. You can prepare for some of the aspects of your funeral, such as the photo you want to use for your obituary and other items like that. I look at the planning aspect this way: if you’re fixing to get married, you’d spend a year or so planning and preparing for that wedding. You’d do the same thing if you’re having a baby. This process is no different: you need to plan and prepare. It gives you the chance to leave a legacy for generations to come. And it doesn’t have to necessarily be about death; there might be things that you want your children to know about you in your life.
So it’s not just about the will or the money, it’s about the life that they’ve lived, their experiences, and the legacy. The “Get it Together” workbook is an extremely valuable tool that you and your loved ones will be thankful for.
Call me if you have any questions:
Elder Law Attorney
McIntyre Elder Law
123 W. Marion Street, Shelby