After my parents died, I knew that there had to be a better way of handling all of the endless details of their lives and deaths and their stuff, from heirlooms and forgotten junk to file cabinets and cars. Financial statements and bills would arrive in the mail and a mysterious small dividend kept showing up in the checking account balance. It took months and months to sort all of the physical things and years to settle all of the last details.
One of the wills had been written years before and never updated but so many things had changed. We like to think that we have nice and reasonable family members but that was not the case here. One person, who shall remain nameless, insisted that there was another will and it would just be a matter of finding it. Of course, no other will or trust was ever found. Another family situation involved some likely embezzlement (but it was not proven and nothing could be done). This from what I consider to be an average, middle class family.
After living through this, and deciding I’d better get my own affairs in order, I was surprised to realize that I did not know how my accounts were titled. I had forgotten about some of the beneficiaries I had named. It all made sense at the time but I could imagine how difficult it would be for someone else trying to untangle it down the road.
I do have my affairs in order now. I am so happy that the details of my messy life are now tucked safely away where my representative can access them – but only if necessary. And I do not have to spend time spent with friends and relatives updating them on the details of my ever changing life.
This is what first inspired this project. I started doing research. I conducted interviews for months. We have worked long and hard to bring to ourselves, friends, relatives and subscribers a practical personal guide to make life easier if and when disaster does strike. Hoping for the best but planning for the worst, I encourage you to subscribe to some peace of mind as I have.
That’s my story – share yours with us at [email protected]
I will be the first to admit that before I was involved in this project, I couldn’t even talk about death (mine or anyone else’s) or the fact that disaster or disability could strike my own life or that of loved ones.
But I have learned a lot. Now that I know what I know, I have faced my fears and gotten my affairs in order. I have a husband, adult children, grandchildren, parents, and siblings. The last thing I want to do is leave a big mess in case of my disability, or worse, my death. I have now set the rules and there won’t be unnecessary questions or drama. I have done it my way.
When it comes to disasters, I live in an area that is constantly threatened by earthquakes and wildfires. So far, so good for me but who knows what the future holds? I personally know families that have lost their homes, treasured items, and way of life to fires. Imagine having to remember what is on all of those paper documents in file folders and desk drawers. Now, even the smallest and most personal details of my life and my wishes are stored where I can access them if and when I need them or my family needs them. I’m on a mission to share this new awareness of mine and I like knowing that I am now much better prepared for what life will eventually throw at me. And, so are my parents, siblings, children, and friends.
That’s my story. You, too, can sleep better at night. Back up your will or trust right here with a free trial subscription today!
Our kids were 13 and 16, and our son had just finished chemotherapy, when we really started to realize just how bad things were with my mom. After a lifetime of working and handling virtually all the practical aspects of life – budgeting and paying bills, overseeing investments, managing medical matters for herself and my dad – she was having trouble understanding the utility statements. She no longer understood the difference between a credit card and a debit card. She started going through her files over and over, struggling to stay on top of things that had once been so simple, and making a total mess of their paperwork.
Dementia doesn’t take a predictable path, and in just a few months, we had to step in with more and more practical assistance. Dad was declining, too, struggling to use the computer, unable to use an ATM, and no longer able to drive. He also became suspicious and angry, accusing us of interfering and trying to take over, giving them help he said they didn’t need. My parents forgot, over and over, why we were talking about moving them and selling the house. My mom had no recollection of overdosing on her medications. My dad had completely forgotten about the time he wandered outside and locked himself out in the middle of the night.
Even though our parents had freely shared their legal documents with us – their wills, powers of attorney and other documents had all been prepared – there was still so much we didn’t know. Doctors, medications, bank accounts, insurance policies, and much more needed to be sorted out. We had to decide what to liquidate and what to keep. When we sold the house, who should get what? Did anyone in the family want to buy their cars? Was it OK to give the china to Goodwill, or would one of our aunts want it? Plus, we had to manage their ongoing care and navigate a whole new way of relating to our confused, vulnerable parents. It’s an endless stream of emotionally exhausting tasks and decisions.
My parents were organized, had saved and prepared well for retirement, and were in good health before dementia hijacked all of their plans. Because we don’t live near one another, my brothers and I were constantly emailing, calling, and texting to exchange information. A shared spreadsheet simply wasn’t enough – and not secure, either. We’re all parents still raising kids, too. None of us have any extra time to deal with all of this, but, of course, we deal with it anyway. We knew there had to be a better way.
I really wish Will and A Way had been around for my parents. My husband and I are beyond relieved to know that our kids will be spared the avalanche of difficult actions and decisions that my brothers and I faced.
That’s my story – share yours with us at [email protected]
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