During this coronavirus pandemic, let’s talk about washing our hands and not touching our faces. Let’s talk about toilet paper and face masks and latex gloves. Let’s talk about who’s essential and who’s not.
Let’s watch experts lecture us about social distancing while they’re packed shoulder to shoulder in front of the tv cameras. Let’s watch endless press conferences where the same experts contradict what they said last month.
Let’s debate infection projections and recovery rates. Let’s debate pharmaceutical effectiveness and ventilator pressure. Let’s debate to-go liquor sales and drive-in churches.
But there are a few things that nobody wants to talk about. Bring up one of those subjects and the room gets awfully quiet, and folks start looking for that carry-out liquor. Since I don’t want to make anyone uncomfortable, I won’t say anything. But I will take a moment or two and write about a couple of them.
Chances are really good that you will survive COVID-19. However, someday, hopefully in the far distant future, you are going to die. And when you do, your family will be forced to make some huge and expensive decisions rather quickly. You can make it so much easier on them, plus make sure they do what you want them to do, by taking care of a few things before that happens. Like, today.
Gather all your important documents and put them, or copies of them, in a folder or box. I’m talking about medical and life insurance policies, contact numbers for agents, mortgages, retirement and banking account information, military and tribal records, your will — those things your family will be scrambling to find after you’re gone. Make sure it’s all easy to understand. Write some notes so it all makes sense.
You might want to make two or three copies. One for your spouse or closest relative, of course, but another for a close friend or associate you trust. That way, if your relative is unavailable or unable to locate the information, someone else will be able to put their hands on it.
Make a list of all the bills you owe, along with the due date and where the bill is paid. If you have online accounts, make sure there’s a list of passwords that will allow someone to pay your bills should you become incapacitated.
Include the passwords to all your computers and online services. Someone will need to access all of this to cancel subscriptions, and to keep hackers from using your information after you’re gone.
If you have minor children, make sure you’ve made plans for their care in case something should happen to both their parents. That needs to be made clear and in writing. Obviously, an attorney needs to be involved in producing those documents.
Now, there’s plenty more to talk about, but if you do just this much, you will remove a huge weight from your loved ones’ shoulders when they are already struggling with grief and loss.
Later, we’ll talk about wills and beneficiaries and funeral plans and cemetery plots. But not now.
Seriously, I know you don’t want to talk about it, but you need to go get that box right now and find those documents that go inside. It’s one of the best things you’ll ever do for your family.
And it really is something we need to talk about.