DWITS #20 – Chapter 16, Getting One’s Personal Affairs in Order

My Aunt Agnes and Uncle Charles (pictured above circa 1970) were childless. They helped my widowed grandmother raise my Dad, so my siblings and I were like their grandchildren. They lived long, full lives and spent many holidays with my family of origin during my childhood. Not only did they pass on a legacy of Christian faith to my siblings and me, but they lived frugally enough to have passed on a small but generous inheritance to each of us. May we all prepare so well as an act of love if we are able.

Now we change direction a bit in my book, Death, Where is Thy Sting? Recovery from the Loss of Our Loved Ones and Preparation for Our Own Final Days, and begin to discuss how one should prepare for their own death. Why is this important? Because death is traumatic for those left behind, so anything we can do to lessen the impact is an act of love beyond our grave. Do not think you are too young to consider this, especially if you have children! There are many practical ideas in this chapter; this excerpt shares a few.

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(Chapter begins in the book.)

For any household, especially a family with lots of children, it is best to stay somewhat organized, especially as regards important legal documents. Mid-point in our marriage, as our oldest children were becoming teens with driver’s licenses, school transcripts, and college scholarship applications, we simultaneously began to adopt and had lots of new paperwork to keep organized. It was then I came up with the idea of the yellow notebooks. Yellow — a color of importance and urgency — was a great choice because I could clearly see them amidst the other not-so-organized stuff on my home office shelves.

I maintain a yellow notebook for each child, myself, and my late husband. I have his still available because — 7 years past his death — I am still resolving a few matters for oil leases I inherited from him, which he had previously inherited from his late mother’s estate that also took time to resolve. Each of my living children’s yellow notebooks have about a dozen clear plastic sleeves which contain, at a minimum, the following:

  1. Original and photocopies of adoption decree (if applicable)
  2. Original and photocopies of birth certificate
  3. Pertinent memorabilia such as Hunter Safety card and unused hunting license tags
  4. Photocopies of high school (homeschool) transcripts
  5. Photocopies of current passport (originals are kept in a secure location when not needed for travel)
  6. Photocopies of historic information such as college loans
  7. Photocopies of important medical, dental, and orthodontic information
  8. Photocopies of student permit or driver’s license

Additionally:

  1. My late husband’s notebook contains copies of his death certificate
  2. My notebook also contains original and photocopies of my marriage license, and my emergency travel insurance policy

I have relegated my deceased daughter’s yellow notebook to my scrapbook box as I no longer need any of her documents — at least I do not think so. If you can believe it, three years after Destiny’s death, I still do not have the original death certificate for her as our state has had to correct errors on it several times. I am still waiting on that ….

To my adult children who live in their own homes, I recently handed-off their yellow notebooks. I believe they are now permanently settled, secure enough, organized enough, to keep track of these records for themselves. Before transferring them, I purged less pertinent information from them that was only relevant to me. Some irrelevant papers were trashed (I recommend burning or shredding confidential information), some were documents (paid college loan receipts) I put in scrapbook files for adding to their books I hope to make in the future — or they can if I don’t get to it!

(Chapter continues in the book.)

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