Boy do I have a tale to tell. Death Clean is a phrase that may not be familiar to you. First the sad part, a loved one passed away the end of January. His journey was a tough one, a few months ago his cancer returned with a vengeance! So at least now he is in a better place, pain-free where he can look down on the love of his life for over 60 years. She won’t miss him as she has Alzheimer’s and it broke his heart when he was living. Cancer may have been the cause of death, but we know he died of a broken heart having to put her in a memory care facility for her own protection and best interests. Alzheimers is an insidious disease.
That being said, I want to bring your attention to what may be a jarring phrase to many of you, “death cleaning.” It’s about getting rid of excess rather than leaving the situation for your heirs to sort out. I want to apply this to homes, vehicles, as well as, finances. Searching through mounds of paperwork, clothing, a lifetime of knick-nacks, and treasured keepsakes is not a fun task, especially when you have only a limited time and budget. A lost vehicle title, keys to a safe deposit box, missing deed to a home make the necessary decisions tough at a time when your heart is just not in it. Make it easier on everyone.
Death clean your possessions. Throw out what you don’t need. A life time of stuff is difficult for someone else to deal with, not to mention dispose of.
Death Clean your finances. Organizing and simplifying our financial lives can make things easier for us while we’re alive and lessen the burden for our survivors when we’re not. Believe me hunting for accounts, whether bank accounts or credit cards is an arduous task, to say the least, when you are not familiar with the town or the individual’s day to day routine or habits. Without the proper paperwork allowing access, expensive attorney fees can be accrued as you try to settle an estate. Don’t put your loved one’s through this.
Consolidate accounts. It’s easier to monitor for suspicious transactions and overlapping investments, plus it could save you money as you age. When you are no longer on this earth, it’s much easier for heirs to collect and close out accounts without fear of having some hanging out there ripe for fraud after your death.
Automatic payments – lapses in memory can lead to missed payments, late fees and credit score damage when you are alive. It’s so much easier for your heirs to follow your financial trail, ensuring that things like real estate taxes, utilities, and credit cards are current. Having a list of these items also makes it easier to shut down accounts.
Set up a watchdog (trusted person). Identify whom you want making decisions for you if you’re incapacitated or upon your death. Keep it up dated. This way should circumstances change, necessary adjustments can be made prior to it becoming an urgent matter. Verify the information that you are giving that person is correct.
I can’t emphasize enough the importance of having an “in case of emergency” file and letting your trusted person know where this is located. Included in this file should be:
Your will or living trust,
Medical directives, powers of attorney, living wills,
Birth, death and marriage certificates,
Social Security cards,
Car titles, property deeds and other ownership papers,
List of your financial accounts, and
Information where to find your attorney, tax pro, financial adviser and insurance agent.
Warning: keeping these items in a safe deposit box may not be the best course of action. Your trusted person may need access to these documents outside of bank hours or may have trouble accessing the box at first. An alternative is a fireproof safe or locking file cabinet. Make sure to share with your trusted person the combination or key.
I hope this post is helpful and saves others from going through what my family has experienced. If you have additional suggestions, please feel free to comment!
Posted in My Say What Blog and tagged Alzheimers, death, Death Clean, estate, financial, incapacitated, trusts, Warning by firstname.lastname@example.org with 3 comments.