The Elephant in the Room – Confronting Mortality and How to Talk to Others about your Legacy
There’s a difference between a Lifetime and Perpetual guarantee. We have Lifetime – and it comes with an expiration date. So what if something happened to you? Who would take care of you? What does your caretaker need to know? Will your survivors be taken care of as you intend? But there’s more to it than end-of-life preparation – what about current and future life? Have you or your spouse ever needed information in a hurry and had to go through a scavenger hunt to find it? Have you ever been away from home without access to something you need now, such as an account or password? Does the anxiety of lack of organization haunt you?
How to talk to yourself
Most people are uncomfortable thinking about their mortality, and it’s extra awkward to discuss it with others. Confronting this isn’t easy. But it is important. Failure to deal with this only creates havoc for those left behind. Dealing with this strategically, before it’s urgent, enables you to think thoroughly and objectively.
The easiest way to approach this is by playing an out of body game, placing yourself into the future. You’re in a coma or dead. There – it’s done. The anxiety is behind you. Now, instead of thinking about it from your perspective, think from your survivor’s perspective. No, I’m not trying to suggest that this subject can taken lightly; I’m trying to help be you reach your intentions. Too often people procrastinate, and it’s too late.
If you’re still struggling on this topic and find yourself frozen, try talking with a close friend or family member, and if you’re not up to that, it may be time to seek professional assistance from your attorney, religious, or social services resources.
How to Talk to Others
Once your information is gathered and organized, you will need to let the important people in your life know about your critical information, and where it is located. It all starts by proactively designating someone to manage your affairs, as your Power Of Attorney (POA) and Executor, who will be legally acting on your behalf. Now HOW do you tell them?
One option is Conversation, admittedly Awkward. Talk about an elephant in the room! Every time we go on vacation we try to review a list with our kids, but they try to dodge the conversation…
Another option is the magic Envelope. If it’s too uncomfortable to discuss, at least tell them WHERE to find your special envelope or the special place that has everything. The envelope can contain all of your details, or if you’re subscribing to MyLegacyBackup, merely have your logon and password in the envelope.
But think carefully about the other person’s future perspective in managing your affairs. What would they need to know? Where is the information?
Now think about your perspective if something happened to someone who designated you as their surrogate. What would you need to know? Where is their information? Besides caring for yourself, you may have been asked to care for someone else. Or even if not asked, you may be responsible for someone else. Have you been provided with adequate information to do your job? If not, you’re feeling similarly awkward in asking the person for details. So start out by not talking about them; talk about you – how you have had difficulty coming to terms with end-of-life planning. This may better ease them into the conversation.
What to do next? Organize!
Now that you’ve convinced yourself of the importance of organizing information, what do you have to do? It’s time to get started by remembering three things: What, Where, Who. For additional information on this topic, see our Organizing Primer. If you do nothing else, at least prepare basic lists manually, and let your family know the location. But clearly, it might be beneficial to consider a tool such as a subscription to MyLegacyBackup to guide you through this task.