I picked DF up at the airport last night. He’d spent nearly a week in the Lower 48 dealing with his father’s end-of-life issues. Hospice is now involved and his dad is being made comfortable. He feels extreme weakness but no pain and is receiving oxygen as needed.
DF spent most waking hours slogging through reams of paperwork and bushels of belongings. Bank, insurance and health records were every which way. The power of attorney (written some years back) turned out to be problematic so DF had to get it rewritten, re-signed and re-notarized.
One agency wanted to know the names of all doctors his father had seen in the past two years, and guess what? Nobody knew. Heck, there wasn’t even a record of the defibrillator he’d had implanted.
Just as difficult was sorting through tons of accumulated possessions. The library said “no thanks” to most of his father’s old books. Boxes of odd belongings collected over the years, including “several hundred pounds of electronics that just didn’t work,” had to be either donated or dumped.
Taking care of business
DF came home exhausted, but glad that he was able to be there and to handle the many details and chores that his dad’s soon-to-be-widow (who’s in her 90s) is unable to accomplish. He brought with him a suitcase of odds and ends and two ironclad decisions:
- To sort through the basement, which houses his own collection of this and that, and
- To make sure all his own paperwork is in one place and easy to understand, so his own kids don’t have such a hard time when that time comes.
I agree. Don’t leave it to others to figure out whether you have any insurance or wonder where you might have put the will. (Don’t have a will? For God’s sake, write one. Now. This article on Nolo gives the basics.)
Keep on top of the clutter, too. Do you want your heirs to have to deal with things like old crocheting supplies and back copies of Field and Stream?
Few of us want to think about getting ready to die. The alternative is leaving a huge, tangled mess for your loved ones. They’re going to have a hard enough time dealing with their grief. Don’t make them try to guess the name of your lawyer, or whether you preferred cryonics to cremation.
Spelling it all out is one last, loving act. Don’t forget to include the password to the safe.