Organizing for Your Heirs

Recently I came across two essays that dealt with organizing for the end of one’s life, one a Sunday Dialogue in the New York Times and the other a post by a person who blogs about organizing.

In the Times article, “Discussing Dying with Loved Ones,” the writer, Janis Abrahms Spring, a clinical psychologist and author of Life with Pop: Lessons on Caring for an Aging Parent, says “When aging parents spell out their end-of-life wishes to their children, this is an act of supreme kindness.”

But as we know, adult children need to do this for themselves and their children as well. One reader responded: “The responsibility… of adult offspring is to consider their own end-of-life preferences in order to begin the conversation with the next generation in a more timely manner.”

We addressed this issue a few months ago in two posts that I wrote, one – One Life, Four Papers – about the four papers we should all have: a will, a power of attorney, a health care proxy, and a living will, and the other – Getting Your House in Order – about the need for a comprehensive list of important information: bank accounts and passwords, insurance policies, and credit cards, as well as a list of the people who need to be notified of your death.

As Marcie, creator of the blog Organized by Marcie, says, “preparing for the inevitable end of life is one of the most important things you can do.” She suggests that in addition to a healthy care proxy and advance directive, one create a list of items that have special meaning to you and explain why you feel they are important to you. What a lovely present that is for your loved ones.

As Marcie says, preparing these documents is not fun, but it is important. And, as we know, your family will thank you for it. As one New York Times reader said after receiving a copy of her mother’s living will and health care proxy: “It was a bit of a shock, but I now appreciate how fortunate we [she and her brother] were to have a mother with such foresight and practicality.”

To organize now about the end of your life is practical, realistic, and sensible – and a bit scary. It is truly a gift to your loved ones. As we said in an earlier post, organize your life now and later on will be easier for you and your family.

Linda Hetzer is an editor and author of books on home designcrafts, and food, and coauthor of Moving On: A Practical Guide to Downsizing the Family Home.

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