Making New Years resolutions that we can stick with!

A new year is upon us. It is time to start fresh, make New Year’s resolutions that we will stick with!

Many of us focus on making resolutions that will benefit us individually, improve our lives (stick to my diet, exercise more, declutter the house). This year, I suggest that you do something different; something that is not only for yourself but will be appreciated and remembered by others. This year, I urge you to plan for the future by thinking about and documenting your end-of-life wishes and estate plan.

There is an old Chinese proverb that states “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second-best time is now.”

Estate Planning

None of us know what the future will bring. Now, I wish all who are reading this a long, healthy and active life but as my mother used to say, “You never know if you will be hit by a bus.” Now is the time to plan and put into place systems that will serve you for the rest of your life.

To get you started, here is a checklist of documents you should have that will be important to others if you are unable to speak for yourself because of a medical crisis or death. How many of the items below can you check off?

Will

  • I have a will
  • I know where it is located.
  • Someone else (other than my attorney/financial advisor or doctor) knows where it is.
  • It has been updated within the past 5 years
  • Why do I need a will? I’m not rich or have a lot of money; besides, I am still young.

Medical Power of Attorney

  • I have a Medical Power of Attorney.
  • I know where it is located.
  • Someone else (other than my attorney/financial advisor or doctor) knows where it is.
  • It has been updated within the past 5 years
  • What is a Power of Attorney and why do I need one?

Financial Power of Attorney

  • I have a Financial Power of Attorney.
  • I know where it is located.
  • Someone else (other than my attorney/financial advisor or doctor) knows where it is.
  • It has been updated within the past 5 years
  • Why do I need a Financial Power of Attorney? I don’t have much money. Who needs this, anyway?

Advance Directive (also known as a Living Will or Health Care Directive)

  • I have a Living Will (also known as an Advance Directive or Health Care Directive).
  • I know where it is located.
  • Someone else (other than my attorney/financial advisor or doctor) knows where it is.
  • It has been updated within the past 5 years
  • Why is a Living Will important? Just do everything to keep me alive; oh, except for these three things. Don’t do them.).

Final Wishes

  • I know what I want to have done when I die (i.e. burial, cremation, organ donation)
  • I know what I want my funeral to look like.
  • I know what I want done with all my stuff (including private letters, diaries and journals).
  • This information is written down in one or more lists.
  • Someone else (other than my attorney/financial advisor or doctor) knows where the lists are.
  • Why can’t I just tell someone what I want and let them deal with it?

Computer and Cell Phone Access

  • My passwords are written down and located in a secure place or I use an on-line, secure password program.
  • Someone knows where this list is located.
  • This list has been updated within the past year.
  • Why would you need my user names and passwords?

Contacts

  • I have a list of people who I would like to be contacted if I am hospitalized for an extended period but am too sick to make the calls or emails.
  • I have a list of people who I would like to be contacted in the event of my death.
  • This may be different from the other lists.
  • These lists have been updated within the last 5 years.
  • Someone knows where these lists are located.
  • Can’t someone just post the information on Facebook? That’s where I get most of my information anyway. Oops, they need my user name and password to get into my account. Okay, someone can write an obituary and put it in the newspaper.

I challenge you to make this year’s resolutions ones that will benefit others as well as yourself. Remember, making these decisions in advance and communicating them to the appropriate people is a gift of love that is given to those who will have to make the decisions if /when you can’t. It is a kindness that will never be forgotten.

Wishing you all a healthy, happy and organized New Year!

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About Rie Brosco

Rie is a member of the National Association of Professional Organizers - Greater Philadelphia Chapter.
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