11 Things You Should Do Before You Die

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I decided to write about 11 things you should do before you die, in other words, what we may all want to consider doing. Sometimes we need a little push to gather important documents together and put them in a binder like the one I designed: Food Storage Moms FREE Printable Emergency Binder Download Please be patient for it to load and the PDF document should show up on your computer on the bottom left-side of your laptop screen or computer monitor. Once the document finishes loading it will be ready to click and print. I prefer printing it on cardstock, and it’s actually in color if you want to print with a color printer. Here’s the deal, no one wants to talk about death in most cases, I get it. I have to tell you a funny story about one of my cute granddaughters, Emmie. One day she came to visit and said to me “Grandma, did you know you’re going to die?”. I said well, “how did this topic come up today?” She was about six or seven at the time and she had recently had a Sunday School lesson where they had talked about death. Well, Emmie looked me in the eye and said, “well you’re gonna die Grandma”! I am known to laugh a lot and I tried to keep a straight face, but I got the giggles so bad only because she was so serious. We then discussed what she had learned in her class. Yes, indeed we will all die.

Over the last few years, we have all had a family member die, a special friend or someone we really admired pass away. Well, this week I went up to Salt Lake City, Utah for the holiday’s and whenever I go up north I love seeing my family and I love going to visit my very special close friends. I visited one family and learned she had had a very close call with death and she has two young children. We talked about the fact that we have both been very healthy over the years and in one afternoon her whole life changed. Drastically changed with some serious health issues. She is not out of the woods yet, and this saddens me deeply.

On Christmas morning, my daughter received a call that her best friend was headed to the hospital in an ambulance. Her daughter had called my daughter to make a few phone calls to help them get in contact with her friends and family ASAP so they would know what was going one with their mother. Well, the friend lives in Park City, Utah and we had the most beautiful snow storm for Christmas day. But this snow storm was treacherous to drive in. My daughter knew she had to drive up the canyon to support her friend, but soon realized she wouldn’t make it up Parley’s Canyon and turned around and came back.

So after much thought I decided I must write a post about my thoughts to help families be prepared after someone in their family dies. I know it is hard because I have had to help friends figure out where their bank accounts are, mortgage company information, insurance companies, and policy numbers, etc. It’s hard when only one member of the family take cares of the bills and the other partner knows very little or nothing about family finances. I mean nothing. Once one of my friend’s husband committed suicide and she had never written a check or had a debit card. She didn’t have a clue about money or debt. Plus, the family had zero life insurance and she had very small children under the age of ten. She had never worked. Now. this could be a young mother, young father or an elderly person who dies. It’s like Emmie said, “well you’re gonna die, Grandma”.

Now keep in mind I am not a lawyer or anyone in the legal system. These are my thoughts and what I have done with my four daughters. You must decide what works for you. My husband and I have both worked in our careers with legal documents and we know how important some of the things I will list below are for any family. Of course, if your worth millions of dollars you probably have already had an estate planner work these deals out with you. I worked with estate planning with my clients on a very small scale during my banking career and directed them to other professionals to finish up their “affairs” before they died. Keep in mind this is the very minimum number of items I am suggesting you do for you and your loved ones before you die.

11 Things To Do Before Your Die:

  1. Talk about death with your family members, not every day, but we need to talk about it. I know I’m going to die and I have had a good life. I’ve been blessed beyond words. When it’s my time, it’s my time to go.
  2. Gather up your important documents and store them in a binder, folder or whatever is convenient and then place them in one secure place. Let your loved ones know where you have these items stored like birth certificates, bank accounts, investments accounts, your will or trust binder, etc. This way they are not frustrated as they try to help the family member(s) that are left behind. I’m assuming you all have a will or trust. If not, get one now or the state where you live may have to determine what happens to your estate/assets when you pass away. As part of that effort, be sure to seriously consider who you want to act as your executor, administrator or personal representative. Money can make people do some strange things.
  3. Label the passwords to accounts, if you feel comfortable sharing them with those who will help take care of those left behind who may need some help with paperwork.
  4. Talk about funerals or cremations and burial plots, whatever you decide you want for your funeral, or in my case a celebration at a park with food catered. Our best friend’s son died and he had the best non-funeral I have ever been to. It was at a park with no casket, no solemn faces. They had music, food catered and bouncy playthings for the kids. Of course, we all cried, but we laughed and giggled about the life he lived. He was the cutest dad ever, and the memories I have will be cherished forever. He was a hockey player and coach and I bet the park was filled with about 400-500 people coming to enjoy his non-funeral. He lived longer than the doctors thought he would, he left behind a beautiful wife and three small children.
  5. This one is silly maybe, but I have been decluttering my house because I don’t want my daughters to have to deal with my “stuff” after I die. I have helped move many people and sometimes I think, wow, why are we moving this stuff. I’m just saying, think about moving, oh it is not fun. Well, just think of the stuff that’s in your home that maybe could be donated, or in some cases put in the trash. I’m not talking about Aunt Mable’s heirloom hankies, although I have trashed many of those types of items. If those hankies or other things are important to you then save them. But sometimes I think our kids will trash them. They may not be treasures to our kids. Just thinking out loud here.
  6. I remember my mom asking me before she died if there was anything she had that I wanted. I think I hurt her feelings because I said I didn’t need or want anything. I know there are a few things my daughters have mentioned they would like. I have given my china to them, I no longer entertain like I used to. Life changes. There are a few other tidbits they may want.
  7. Decide if life insurance is right for you. I have seen many young mothers and fathers die who leave their loved ones behind in a financial disaster. I have also seen where the families planned ahead. Thank you, God, for inspiring them to do be prepared with life insurance to at least pay off their home and have some money to live on until they can get back on their feet to provide for the family.
  8. Talk about budgets before you die. What income will you lose if the breadwinner should die without warning? The income and budget should not be a secret. Have a family meeting and talk about how much money comes in and needs to go out each month. Make it a positive experience. It’s a good thing to talk about budgets with your kids, we have all heard that phrase, “money does not grow on trees”. The more mature children need to understand where the family stands financially.
  9. Think about donating your organs BEFORE you die. What a difference this can make in the lives of others who need the blessing of a replacement organ to survive!
  10. This may seem crazy, but I told Mark if he wants an obituary, he better write one TODAY or there will not be one. Here’s the deal, I can’t remember all the things I want in my Obituary, or for that matter, whether I want my kids to waste the money publishing one. So, there you have it, write your own obituary (minus the dates).
  11. Talk to your family about rest homes, care centers or whatever you want to call them. I don’t want to waste my daughter’s time and energy taking care of me. If in fact I don’t know who I am after a certain age in my life, I am telling you NOW that’s it’s okay to have someone else care for me in a Medicare facility. Also, please remember to have a “right to die or let me go if I am gone mentally” paper signed if you feel comfortable with that. I do, for sure. The hospital will need this legal document if your state allows it.  It is often referred to as a Living Will.

I hope this post helps just one family be better prepared for the death of a family member or friend. May God bless you in your preparedness in every aspect of your life.

My favorite things:

  1. I suggest you get some colored tabs (ten tabs) to go with your binder like these: Avery Extra wide Ready Index Dividers, Laser/Ink Jet, 9.5 x 11 Inches, Assorted, 10 Tabs, 1 Set (11165)
  2. Get some zippered binder pockets like these: Cardinal Expanding Zipper Binder Pocket, Clear, 3/PK (14201)
  3. I used baseball cards pages or photo pages similar to these: Avery Horizontal Photo Pages, Acid-Free, 4 x 6 Inches, Pack of 10 (13406)
  4. I also purchased binder pockets like these: Avery Binder Pockets, Acid-Free, Pack of 5 (75254)
  5. Page protectors like these: Avery Standard Weight Sheet Protectors, Pack of 25 Sheet Protectors (75530)

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18 thoughts on “11 Things You Should Do Before You Die

  • January 1, 2017 at 10:18 am
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    Hi Linda,
    Thank you for posting this. I work for a Catholic Church dealing (among many other duties) with those who are ill and homebound and who die. I can tell you from 20 years of experience doing this job, that some kind of funeral or non-funeral is very important. Many in my community have been devastated when a well-known and loved person had no funeral. This isn’t a religious issue per se, but rather a human issue. We need the opportunity to honor and say goodbye to those who die. Also, it is my habit to read the local obituaries everyday. I have learned of the deaths of many former acquaintances that I lost contact with. I would suggest that some kind of obituary, even just a notice of death, is important. I also arrange an information session every few years that includes a funeral director, lawyer, doctor or nurse, hospital chaplain, and insurance agent, giving lots of time for questions. Perhaps other churches provide this as well.

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    • January 3, 2017 at 5:08 am
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      Hi Linda, Mark and I used to read the obituaries until they stopped delivering the newspaper to our city. It’s not the same reading the newspaper online. What a great idea to have the information session every few years. That’s the best idea I hadn’t thought about. I know the church Mark and I belong to does not do that. I tip my hat to you for putting that together. This is such a great idea! Happy New Year, Linda

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  • January 1, 2017 at 10:48 am
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    THANK YOU! This is just what I need right now. My brother was diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer one week before Christmas. He has NOTHING in order & it is all up to me to get him through his remaining weeks to months. I am over whelmed & this will help. I have used this previously for myself but it never came to my mind these past 3 weeks. As always, you are awesome & so inspired. Happy New Year friend.

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    • January 3, 2017 at 5:04 am
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      Hi Mamapeck, oh I’m so sorry to hear about your brother’s cancer a week before Christmas! I hope he doesn’t suffer, cancer is such a mean disease. I will pray for you and your family. May God bless you to get through this project to help your brother with peace and love. Hugs, my friend. Linda

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  • January 1, 2017 at 12:31 pm
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    Linda
    Bravo!! We need this discussion and should not bury our heads in the sand. Thank you again for your bravery.

    I have had this discussion with my daughter who is a nurse. I told her…”Now Ginger, if I get goofy and stop drinking and eating and am really sick, just let me go”. She nonchalantly nods and says “okay”. I think about it again and then say “But if I cannot speak and my eyes are saying I am not ready to let go yet…then don’t let me go”. She looks up from her smart phone and says “okay mom”. Then I say “But, if I am in a great deal of pain and my eyes say please just……” Ginger looks up again and says “STOP MOM, for the love of God. Remember I am a nurse, I know what to do and I will NOT allow you lay in pain…” And then I get all funky nervous thinking about what she will do to me to make things quicker and my eye balls get really big and they begin fiercely darting back and forth in my head. At that moment we lock eyes and begin to howl with uncontrollable belly laughter to the point that tears are running down our fat cheeks.

    So, just sayin’ I have run a good long race, but not ready to hit the dirt as of yet. A young 70 on the first of Feb. I will be and still able to swing my well-endowed hips to a good song. But, if the song ends there and I am in the middle of a swing, I will just take it to that perfect place I call my ‘real home’.

    My hope is that you and I will still be posting for years to come and if one of us decides to go Home early we can just pick up where we left off as we meet for the first time ‘on the other side’. I will surely recognize you as the most organized and best cook who has managed to color coordinate everything in Heaven and you can recognize me as the ‘wanna be artist’ who laughs at all the wrong things. :o/

    It has been an unusual 2016 with a little fear, lots of prayer and much prepping, but we made it over the line to 2017. Woo Hoo. I think we have this handled. Eh Linda?

    ((Hugs))
    Vivian
    Cincinnati Ohio
    gee, sent you a pic but it did not show up. Dom it!!!

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    • January 3, 2017 at 5:01 am
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      Oh Vivian, you gave me the giggles when you said you can move your hips to a good song! I will be 67 in January we are so close in age, I love it! I bet we will recognize each other in heaven because we can laugh together! Hugs and love, Linda

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  • January 1, 2017 at 4:13 pm
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    I also thank you for this post. It is a reminder to get those things in order now. I know it would be nearly impossible for my daughter and son-in-law to know who to contact regarding my life insurance, auto insurance, etc., without the hassle of going through all of my papers (which are a disaster!!). Even then, it would be a daunting task at best.

    A couple of books I just purchased (because I am anal retentive!) are: From AARP – Checklist for My Family by Sally Balch Hurme and Get It Together by Melanie Cullen. Both books have pages to fill out (or copy) but both have some pages that are different. They are giving a great idea of how to put all of my stuff together.

    One other thing that I thought of was to go through my more valuable things and put a page or two in my binder of the value of those items. For example, I have an embroidery sewing machine and a serger machine. I would not want those to just be “given/donated” but sold (if my daughter does not want them). I also have some antique furniture. I have not had those appraised per se but I do know that they have some value that, again, I would not want them just given away.

    All of this said, once I die, it is no longer my “problem”. I don’t, however, want my daughter to suffer going through all of this when she may be grieving.

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    • January 3, 2017 at 4:58 am
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      Hi Leanne, oh my gosh, I have a sewing machine with the embroidering attachment! And my serger, oh goodness, I need to remind my kids not to donate those! LOL! The antiques may stay in the family but our kids need to know the value of some of the stuff so they don’t just donate it because they could probably use the cash! Great comment, thank you! Linda

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  • January 1, 2017 at 9:23 pm
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    You read my mind- or I did yours.
    We do this every Jan1.
    This year our burial plans have drastically changed. We agreed to both be cremated and buried at a National Cemetery. No flowers. That should save the kids a ton of money.
    We also went over exactly how much money we have, all the accounts they are in and the passwords. Sometimes it is difficult to remember what his third aunt’s name is….

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    • January 3, 2017 at 4:55 am
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      Hi Jan, I bet we both read each other’s minds! I pulled out my burial papers and started reading the small print. I bought them about 20 years ago. Well, to open and close a burial deal is like $3500.00 at today’s rates! I called the place to inquire about “today’s rates”, and I nearly passed out thinking my kids would have to come up with that kind of money! I’m selling those burial deals because that is outrageous. I think that’s why more and more people are going with cremation, it’s a lot cheaper! Happy New Year, my friend! Linda

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  • January 2, 2017 at 6:12 am
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    After cleaning out my mother’s house after her death, I agree with decluttering. I am working on that, a little at a time. I never want someone to have to do all the work after I am gone.

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    • January 3, 2017 at 4:51 am
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      Oh Janet, the decluttering…..I’m working on it, although Mark won’t let go of one thing. I gently remind him our kids are going to have to deliver a dumpster to our home and start loading it after we die. Of course, they will keep my food storage and emergency preps items! LOL! Have a great day, my friend! Linda

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  • January 2, 2017 at 6:23 am
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    As always I so appreciate your honest, practical and timely postings. Even though it is sad for any of us to think that our “heavenly graduation” will come how precious it is to be prepared and do these things with love for that time. Twenty years ago my Dad passed rather quickly due to cancer. He did not let us know the seriousness of his situation. However, he bravely and thoughtfully used his remaining earthly time to make sure all things were in order before he transited. It was a difficult time to have him leave us and it was especially so for our Mom. She and Daddy were always sweethearts. But what an act of love it was to find everything in order and organized. He even added notes such as “Honey, this is xxx and it is for xxx. You will need to call/do/know xxx to take care of this/get this, etc.” My eyes are filled with tears even as I write this because this type of love is so impactful. He thought of us beyond what he was going through. A beautiful example of love for us and caring even after his passing.
    Once again, thank you for your ongoing sharing. Please know you are loved and appreciated.
    Hugs!

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    • January 3, 2017 at 4:48 am
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      Oh Violet, what a sweet story about your parents being sweethearts! I loved your comment and I too had my eyes well up when you started talking about how your sweet daddy was writing loves notes to you mama right up to the end of his life to make her aware of what items needed to be taken care of. I bet he is up in heaven right now looking down at you and your family with love and joy. Sometimes, I look up into the clouds outside and tell my mom and dad what a good job they did raising me. I am thankful for the skills they taught me. When the clouds move I know they are listening. Happy New Year, my friend! Hugs and love, Linda

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  • January 2, 2017 at 7:19 pm
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    Hate the thought of every dying but this is very practical info! thanks!

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    • January 3, 2017 at 4:42 am
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      Hi Kathy, I hear you on that one! Dying is sad for those left behind. Happy New Year! Linda

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  • March 2, 2017 at 10:34 am
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    Dear Linda

    We are still reeling from the sudden and unexpected loss of my FIL on January 7th this year. We had been kidding him for years about his crazy hording and how difficult it would be to clean it all. He kept promising he would eventually get rid of things. Well now we have to figure out what to do with a house and garage full of tools and equipment. My MIL is helpless and has never paid a bill in her life. Guess where she now sleeps? Only going home to spend a few hours a day. I was not ready for this kind of life altering event. I am 62 and way to tired to be a caretaker as I just am finishing up with my youngest going to university. You are so right. We need to be prepared so we do not leave a huge burden for the young ones we leave behind. Again a lovely article. Thank you.

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    • March 2, 2017 at 11:56 am
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      Oh, Cookin, I feel so sorry for you, the loss of your FIL and now to take care of your MIL. Here’s the deal, it’s so hard to go through stuff that isn’t yours. I keep telling friends to get rid of stuff NOW. Some think their stuff is going to be worth lots of $$$$. If they would just sell the stuff before they die, their kids won’t have to fight to find a place to trash it, sell or donate it. I’m 67 and I couldn’t be a caretaker either. May God bless you to have the strength to get through this. This could be a very long transition for you to deal with. I hope someone reads you comment because they need to hear this. Hugs to you! Linda

      Reply

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