The authors of a neat little organizer titled, "Putting Things in Order: A Journal to Organize Your Life for the Next Generation," sent me their top ten list of things to do so you can be organized with the paperwork you want your heirs to have. Before I tell you about their book, here's the list as written by authors Ellen Baumritter and David Finkle:
1. Make sure you have a will, and that it's up to date.
2. Specify all your funeral wishes so it's what you want and not what others think you want.
3. Make available a list of your doctor(s), lawyer(s), accountant(s), et cetera.
4. Leave full information on where any bank vaults and/or safety boxes are located.
5. Have handy every deed to house(s), automobile(s) and the like; similarly, let your survivors know the whereabouts of your checking and savings accounts.
6. Prepare a list of all relatives, friends and associates who should be notified of your death.
7. Compile instructions on how your valuables should be distributed and to whom-or not to whom.
8. See to it that your pets will be taken good care of.
9. Write down everything you've always wanted to say to your loved ones and haven't yet taken the opportunity to say.
10. Be sure you buy a copy of "Putting Things in Order" to make your life - and your dying- easier.
Now for my thoughts about the book "Putting Things in Order: A Journal to Organize Your Life for the Next Generation." I've looked over and even reviewed a few of these books/journals, as this issue has become a bit of a trend. Some are online with mixed media and really fancy, while others are in book format - more my style. I've liked others, but this book is my favorite, so far.
One thing I like is the physical product. The cover has a "homespun" look, which may or may not appeal to everyone, but I like it. What I like even more, though, is the spiral binding, which allows the book to lie flat, and it has pockets. Each time I'm sent one of these books I think, "Why don't they put pockets in these?" Well, these designers did.
If you want your daughter Jane to have one pair of earrings and your daughter Mindy to have another, why not have a pocket next to the list where you can tuck a photo with of the object discussed, with the person's name of the back? Then there is no misinterpretation of what "light gold" or "kind of worn" is all about. This book with its pockets will not hold all of your paperwork. It's not that large. But you can use the book as a guide, and tuck notes and directions in the pockets.
The book is written in a light-hearted manner with quotes taken from well known people inserted at the beginning of each chapter. For one chapter, they chose this quote from Garrison Keillor.
"They say such nice things about people at their funerals that it makes me sad to realize that I'm going to miss mine by just a few days."
Each section is tabbed. The sections given are "Valuables & Possessions," "Financial Matters," "Funerals, Wills & Related Matters," "Personal Matters," "For the next Generations" and "Directory & Resource Guide."
The book serves as a memory jogger when it comes to reminding you what to write down. Where is that car title, anyway? How about the directions for the 401K? It also leaves some guilt inducing pages for you to write anything you want, strongly hinting that this may be the time to tell everyone you love them, or tell them about the time you "borrowed" you dad's car and drove it in the lake - accidentally. The pages beg for words, and with the book staring at you from your bedside, you may actually decide to write in it. The back of the book gives practical Web sites for remaining family members to visit and has places for appropriate names, addresses and phone numbers.
"Putting Things in Order" was published by Chronicle Books and is available for $19.95 at bookstores and online.
Published On: August 11, 2008