RICHARD's desk...: Life is fragile, filled with the unexpected

Kimberley died in a car accident in Newmarket not long ago. She was 51. Her father reminisced about her in a Toronto Star piece in Gordon Pape’s column.

Life is filled with the unexpected. None of us knows when the final curtain will be drawn. Your family will be grateful forever if you prepare for that final curtain.

Here’s a checklist for that the closing act.

Every family needs to complete this task list

This checklist should be dealt with now. Not tomorrow, not next week, next month. Start it now, get the process going and in a month’s time your mind will be at ease knowing you have you’re your affairs in proper order for your family.


Make a will
The better way to make a will is to use a lawyer. But you can go it ‘alone’ and the Internet can provide you with the necessary steps. If there is no will, the government steps in and deals with your property as they see fit. This may not be the way you would have done it, so take care of how you want your property dealt with by making a will.

Name an executor, a person you trust to act on your behalf to carry out your wishes as declared in your will. As this role has serious responsibilities and duties, confirm that your choice of executor agrees to act in the role. If you are alone, your lawyer can act as an executor.

Financial Asset list
No one knows what you own, all your possessions. To discover them all would be a horrendous task for anyone. Consider bank accounts, stock assets, insurance policies. These are all your financial assets. Include phone numbers of these contacts, representatives in the list. Your list will be tremendously useful to your executor.

Personal asset list
Besides your financial assets, you have other property which needs to be listed. Consider home, cottage, vehicles, all other tangible property which has value and which you want dealt with in particular ways. Remember to include family heirlooms, valuable jewelry, electronic equipment, anything of tangible value which will not be in the financial asset list but which still has real value. Add this list to your financial asset one or attached as a codicil to your will.

Access to cash
Your family or your executor may need money to deal with expenses after to cover things like funeral expenses. If you have the funds, identify where they are, the amount that you have and give access to those who need it.

Joint accounts
Make your executor a joint account holder so they can easily deal with your estate expenses in an effective and efficient manner. If something happens to you, a trusted person can deal with related expenses in a practical and expeditious way.

Many people use passwords in many areas of their lives. Electronic banking access becomes ‘inaccessible’ without appropriate passwords. Put all your passwords in order, preferably not written into a notebook but stored online in a password manager application like LastPass. You should be using a password manager anyway but giving  your executor your master password key to unlocking the password manager application will make life much easier for your executor(s).

Your family needs to know your wishes
You need to inform your family about all your wishes. Where is everything? Where are the crucial documents stored.

Estate Organizer
For many years, an Estate Organizer document has been available to all ‘szpinsters.’ This is a tested and proven ‘final document’ where you list people, business contacts, friends, family members and relatives with appropriate their phone numbers. It was a ‘godsend’ when my mother-in-law passed away. All the contacts with all the phone numbers, email addresses and even land addresses at hand. Contacting and notifying people was practical, easy and quick. Later, when memorial cards and follow up church services information had to be done, again it was super easy to do.

An added bonus is that the document has a very eye catching final page where one lists the location of the essential documents and tapes the page to an inside cupboard door as a daily reminder as to where crucial documents are located.

Without hesitation, this document is the best thing ‘since sliced bread’ when it comes to the purpose for which it was created. Every family should have one. A sample of the Estate Organizer is available at Estate Organizer.

Family resistance
This check list for after is an unpleasant set of tasks and one will encounter expected resistance from family members when called upon to help in its completion. However, all these things should be done in order to make organization and necessary things come together someday.

Completing the tasks in the list will take a long time, but the benefits will make life so much easier after. The benefits and advantages to doing all this cannot be emphasized enough. There is a lot to doing it all but life will be so much easier when you need to call up the information and use it at some future time.

Source for some of this document: GORDON PAPE – TORSTAR

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