A couple of things I’ve learned in the last couple of weeks after the passing of my grandmother.
- About a year before she died, mom took all of grandmother’s bills & bank statements and put them in a binder. The binder is about 5″ thick and had page protectors that she put all of the bills for 2010 in alphabetical order. Each credit card account had its own sleeve. Grandmother had many, many, many credit cards and paid them all on time, etc., but this was an immense help of organization when trying to figure out what she still owed. So, I plan to set up my own filing system for important papers and will then tell 4 people where it is – my mother, my husband, and 2 friends. That way any of the 4 of them can find the information in case something happens to either one of us.
- Have a competent lawyer! We didn’t find a will in grandmother’s belongings. We know about what it said, but didn’t find a copy of it. Later mom realized that grandmother had given it to her, but mom’s house had a tree fall on it last summer, so she is still living in a surreal situation that can’t possibly be covered in this post. 🙂 We looked through mom’s binders (see #1) and through some important papers that she has where she’s living now, but no will. We then called the lawyer who said she has a copy, but it’s unsigned. WHAT??? She said that she, “wasn’t near a copy machine when the original was signed.” Ummm that’s completely unacceptable! Every lawyer I’ve ever dealt with prints at least 2 copies and has the client sign each copy. The client takes one and the lawyer keeps one. That way if something happens, there’s still a signed original in the lawyer’s possession. Being as how my husband & I have no will, we need to A) get a will ASAP & B) tell my mom & 2 others the name of the lawyer that assisted us in creating the will, which a copy of will be in the binder (see #1)
- Make sure any property and stock we own has the right of survivorship to each other in case something happens to keep from having to go to probate court.
- Have a sealed safe of some kind (fireproof, waterproof, etc.) in case of flooding, or fire.
- Collect any information about IRA accounts, stocks, property ownership, titles to vehicles, insurance, etc.
- Have the phone number for home insurance in my cell phone in case something drastic happens (fire, flood, tree falling on the house, etc.).
- Tell my family & friends on a regular basis how much I love and appreciate them. Although they know it, they don’t get to hear it near enough.
Finally, I learned that I need to clean house! I need to get rid of all the stuff that I don’t really care about because if something does happen, I don’t want others to have to figure out what to do with it. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll never get down to 100 items as many minimalists suggest, but I see large donations to The Salvation Army in my future. 😀