Take a look around you. Is your life organized? Is it organized enough, in case something happens to you? Here are some things to think about in the event that your loved ones have to pick up where you left off.
If something were to happen to you tomorrow, what would you be leaving behind?
Last week, someone I know died suddenly.
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I saw him one day, and the next day he was gone.
Just like that.
And it made it painfully obvious that tomorrow is not a certainty.
Not for any of us.
Now take another look around you – would you want to leave everything you see to the people that you love the most?
Despite having been a professional organizer, there are areas of my life that could use more organization.
Right now if someone had to pick up where I left off, they would need to spend a lot of time and effort figuring out how to tie up loose ends and deal with stuff.
All of this on top of their already busy lives.
If you don't already have roadmaps in place for those you love, it's time to get start getting your affairs in order.
Here are some tips for organizing your important documents and passwords – so the people you love won't be left with the gift of cleaning up your mess.
Organizing Your Important Documents Is Just The Beginning
Important documents like
- life insurance policies
- birth certificates
- marriage certificates and divorce decrees
- social security cards
- tax returns
should be organized and kept safely.
This is a good start. Let your significant others know that they can find everything important in that one spot.
Unfortunately, this is only one piece of the pie.
Have you thought about …
Organize Your Digital Accounts
We manage many of our important accounts digitally.
Most banks want us to opt out of paper statements altogether.
This can make for a really interesting scavenger hunt, but more likely than not will create stress for the person that is trying to figure it all out.
At a minimum you want to let your significant others know about
- the accounts that you manage digitally
- subscription plans that charge you periodically
- passwords – but only to those that you trust
- contact information
If you leave an A to Z roadmap, the process of closing out your accounts will much easier for others.
Make a list of your accounts, and explain how you access them.
Make a list of recurring charges – so someone can quickly call those services and stop future charges.
And what about those pesky passwords?
- Digital Organization – How to Organize Your Computer
- How to Name Your Digital Files So You Can Find What You Need
- Digital File Types – What You Need to Know Before You Go Paperless
Organize Your Passwords
Passwords pose another problem – security. Apps like 1Password (see my review here) allow you to create multiple vaults and share them. A nice thing to do would be to separate your important passwords from everything else – so those you care about don't have to sift through a ton of information to find what they are looking for.
Aside from the practical reasons for leaving a digital trail, there are emotional considerations too.
Facebook now allows you to designate a legacy contact. By doing this you give another person the authority to handle your Facebook account after your passing. It may seem trivial, but having your Facebook profile up and running after you are gone may be upsetting to your friends and relatives. Alternatively, they may take comfort in the outpouring of messages and want to leave the profile up.
Along the same lines as passwords is “contacts” or your address book. The majority of us keep our contacts on our phone or computer. Both of these devices are often locked with a password.
Your significant other will want to have access to that for obvious reasons.
Leave Good Instructions For Your Family
One of the biggest gifts you can leave for your loved ones is a comprehensive set of instructions on what they should do and who they should contact if the unthinkable happens.
The time to plan for that is now.
If you are having trouble pulling it all together, author Mark Pope has put together a useful workbook called Cellphones Don't Work in Heaven. It is a fill in the blank roadmap that you can use to help get your affairs in order. (Read my review here.)
Is Your Life Organized Enough?
Can people pick up where you leave off?
Tell us the steps you've taken in organizing your important documents in case the unthinkable happens.
Leave a comment below.