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Are your Affairs in Order?

18766738_sFive words that will change your life:  “Are your affairs in order?” or perhaps you know someone who has been told “You better get your affairs in order.”

When people hear this, there has usually been a sudden change in their health, serious illness, an accident or even imminent death.  Of the approximately 300,000 deaths per year in Canada about 30% of these are sudden and unexpected.  The remaining 70% of these deaths or 200,000 deaths are known and expected.  Are your affairs in order? –  Is the gift of time.

How the individual hearing these words or their loved ones’ deals with this knowledge can be very diverse.  Certainly there can be anger, denial, procrastination, and any myriad of other emotions.  Or these words can ignite action.

In the latter case this is the time that people take to finally get their affairs in order. Well what does that mean and what does that entail?

There are 4 important things that most individuals need to have in place.  These are:

  1. Power of Attorney for personal care
  2. Power of Attorney for personal property
  3. A valid will
  4. A prepaid funeral contract

I worked with one gentleman recently whose mother had died after a 6 year struggle with Alzheimer’s.  He recalled that it was incredibly brave of her to get her affairs in order.  For this family that meant that his mother sold her home, drafted the legal papers for her Power of Attorney’s and updated her will.  She also simplified her investments and banking accounts, making a list of her account and investment numbers, and giving this to her son.  She also made an appointment with the funeral home and created her prepaid funeral plan.  Reflecting on the funeral process when it was eventually needed, he said: “It was nice going into this knowing exactly what to do.  There wasn’t any question of meeting my mom’s wishes. I knew exactly that things were done they way my mom wanted.”  Although it was not easy for him to prepare and follow through with the organized funeral wishes, there was certainly a sense of relief and calm in knowing that he had done exactly what his mom wanted.  This is leaving a loving legacy.

For this family there was the gift of a few years of time and his mom took the lead and ensured that things were as well organized as she could, doing this during the time of her mental capacity.

Sometimes people do not have the gift of as much time.

I was assisting a young lady to close her husband’s estate.  He had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and died 4 months later.  Even in this short gift of time, the lady commented that “The beauty of 4 months of dying, is that you have time to get things organized.”  Incredibly she and her husband did all the right things efficiently and quickly while he was able to make informed decisions.  They updated their will, put the home into her name, he sold a couple of cars that he had been meaning to sell anyway.  He and his wife met with their financial advisor and consolidated their investments. They met with his employer so she would know exactly what pension and benefits would continue on for her and the boys after he died.  Then they met with my colleague to discuss and plan the eventual funeral.  To celebrate the good time they had left the family took a wonderful dream vacation.

If we are given this gift of time we can choose to put our affairs in order, simplify our banking and investments, give away items with a warm hand and enjoy others appreciating them, and spend time remembering the love and joy we have had in our life.  One lady commented to me that although she was very sad and lonely that her husband of 63 years died, she said:  “To live in the heart of someone who loves you is not to die.”  Wow, to me that was so powerful.

Intentionally or not we all leave a legacy.  What will we be remembered for? Will we leave a legacy of chaos, confusion, hurt, doubt?  Will we have our family wondering what type of funeral we wanted, or if there is personal life insurance to claim, or what other investments there are?

Or will we leave a legacy of calm, organized, loved and cherished memories?  Will we be secure in knowing that our loved one’s know exactly what we have, why we have this and what we want done with things.

This is entirely up to us.  Each day is a gift and today is the present. NOW is the time to get your affairs in order.  Get things done on your terms and your time frame.  Then step back and celebrate your success of leaving a loving legacy.

I’d love your feedback! And don’t forget to leave a link back to your own blog if you have one via the commentluv feature here on my site.

Until next time,



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