Wednesday, August 5, 2009
Your Last Will and Testament may be the most important manuscript you'll ever write.
My husband was one of the most thorough men to walk the planet. He drafted a will within a month of discovering I was pregnant with our first child. At his insistence, we chose guardians before we'd become parents. He bought life insurance to provide for his growing family, just in case. I was so thankful for his wise provisions when he was taken from us much too soon.
Now, I'm in charge, so I followed his lead and quickly drafted a new will. I've collected documents, written down computer passwords--some (including my husband) may call this a "no-no." Just try settling affairs without them--assigned guardians, drafted a medical power of attorney, and taken care of as much business as possible.
It's your turn. Are your affairs in order? Or are you so overwhelmed you don't know where to begin? If so, don't stop reading; this blog's for you.
1. Start a notebook with the following information:
--Your general information: name, address, social security number, occupation, education, and contact person.
--Military Service: branch of service, serial number, date entered, type of separation or discharge and date, location of discharge papers (DD214), highest grade or rank, wars/conflicts served, medals/honors/citations, and any additional information.
--Date and Location of your Will. Executor/Executrix, and contact information for attorney who prepared the will.
--Banking Information: Name of bank, account number. Safe deposit box location, box number and key location.
--Credit Cards: Name, account number, expiration date, and contact number.
--Life Insurance: Name of company, policy number, and beneficiary.
--Real Estate Holdings: Description, address, and deed location.
--Financial Assets: mutual funds, stocks, bonds, vehicles. Type/description, location.
--Personal Requests: List all family heirlooms and items of sentimental value. Name beneficiary of each.
Having this kind of information available to your next of kin is invaluable. Just be sure to store your notebook in a safe location.
2. Consider pre-planning funeral arrangements. No one wants to think about dying. Making those kinds of plans never make it to the top of your to-do list. But planning a funeral after a sudden death condenses all the stress associated with wedding arrangements into a single morning, only instead of a happy occasion to look forward to, you're making expensive and permanent decisions, while somehow living out your worst nightmare. I do hope to spare my children this ordeal, but pre-planning hasn't yet reached the top of my to-do list either. I suppose I should cross off other, less important, items and move this one up.
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