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. As an example, 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.

11 Things You Should Do Before You Die

11 Things You Should Do Before You Die

My Granddaughter Emmie

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’m 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.

Close Call with Death

Over the last few years, we have all had a family member die, a special friend, or someone we really admired pass away. Well, a few years ago I went up to Salt Lake City, Utah for the holidays. 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 on with their mother.

Well, the friend lives in Park City, Utah and we had the most beautiful snowstorm for Christmas day. But this snowstorm 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.

Be Prepared Before Someone Dies

So after much thought, I decided I must write a post about my thoughts to help families be prepared before 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, policy numbers, etc. It’s hard when only one member of the family takes care of the bills and the other partner knows very little or nothing about family finances. I mean nothing.

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Unexpected Death

Once one of my friend’s husbands 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, a 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 you are 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 yourself and your loved ones before you die.

11 Things You Should Do Before You Die

1. Talk About Death

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. Important Documents

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, investment 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. Passwords To Accounts

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. Of course, you will want to put these in a safe location.

4. Funerals or Cremations

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. Declutter Your House

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.

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6. Sentimental Items

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 memory-filled or useful things they may want. I might as well give them now if I don’t need/use them.

7. Life Insurance

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. Term insurance is very inexpensive when you are young and have a family. Keep in mind the premiums go up considerably as you get older. Maybe a mixture of term, whole life, or other types of life insurance should be considered.

8. Loss of Income

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 the phrase, “Money doesn’t grow on trees.” The more mature children need to understand where the family stands financially.

9. Donate Organs

Think about donating your organs. This decision needs to be made 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. Write Your Obituary

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) if you want one.

11. Care Centers

Talk to your family about rest homes, care centers, or whatever you want to call them. I don’t want to waste my daughters’ 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 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.

Final Word

I hope today’s post about 11 things you should do before you die prompts you to prepare your family for that final step in your life. Please be prepared before you have to be. May God bless this world. Linda

Suicide Post

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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  1. Linda, If the surviving family does not want to publish an obituary or the expense is cost prohibitive at the time, a memorial can be created on the website “findagrave.com” for free. It links to the website Ancestry.com and is invaluable to people working on genealogy. At some point in the future, the next generation might greatly appreciate this post. Pictures and any information can be added, also the disposition of the person is not limited to a cemetery. Hope this helps someone at one of the worst moments of life.

    1. Hi Beth, thanks for that great tip! The cost of an obituary is so expensive. My friend uses that “findagrave.com” because she does genealogy. Great comment!! Linda

  2. Great post, Linda ~
    I have an acquaintance whose husband was in the hospital last year and not expected to live. Her family is a blended family: her husband and his son and her two daughters. Because their social security income was so low, his son and one of her daughters sent them money each month. She knew that if her husband died, his son would no longer send what he had been sending. She was in a total panic. There were many things about this situation that were tragic. She did not know how to write a check or where to find the balance on their checking account: he did all of the financial dealings and all on the computer. She did not know how to pump her own gas! Well, her husband did not die and seems to be doing pretty well at this time, thank the Lord. When he came home from the hospital (a few days after he was home), she asked me to help her with a few things such as raising the walker so he could get around some. I had the opportunity to speak with her husband privately and advised him that he really needed to get her ready to be on her own. He agreed and said he would work on that.

    A funny thing happened when my daughter and her family were down a couple of weeks ago to celebrate my birthday as well as my oldest granddaughter’s. I have 2 handmade brooms: one that I made and one that I purchased years ago when I had my home decorated in rustic farmhouse style! My daughter actually said that she wanted those brooms when I died! Not gonna wait that long! Next time I go visit, they are going with me. I say, let her store them as I don’t use them, they are for decorative purposes. Brooms! Who would have thought she would want my rustic brooms!

    I have written out what I want to happen to everything that my daughter does not want. We have a couple of charitable outfits here in the town I live in and they will get all the furniture and household goods (plates, cookware, bedding, etc) that my daughter does not want. If you have things that have value, write those values down in the “book” and advise the heirs to sell those items rather than just giving them away. Of course, once I am gone, I am not going to care what happens to my things! I also have smallish boxes for each of my grandkids as there are a few things that I want them to have.

    Something else that I recommend people doing if they pay anything on-line through their bank or have automatic payments; get social security and/or pensions: write a list of things to do FIRST. Cancel/notify Social Security Administration; inform the pension administrator; cancel all automatic payments and subscriptions; contact the home/auto insurance company (of course, don’t cancel the policies until the home or autos have been dealt with – sold or put in someone else’s name).

    In a way, I am fortunate that I only have one daughter and everything I have goes to her. In another way, I am unfortunate in that everything falls on her shoulders. So, I want everything lined out for her so she doesn’t have so many decisions to manage.

    Getting everything ready for the person/persons left behind is a daunting task and one that should be on the front burner. We never know when our time is up and I sure don’t want to leave a huge mess for my daughter.

    1. Hi Leanne, I’m with you on that! I don’t want to leave “stuff” my daughters need to put in a dumpster!!! LOL! I love the broom story!! Life is so good! Linda

  3. Darn, I thought this was going to be one of those “See the Grand Canyon, etc.” lists. Just kidding, Linda, I know better than that LOL. Seriously, though, #5 is very important–my mother left my brothers and me a house full of stuff to deal with, as she was in denial about her cancer. I vowed not to do that to my sons, but the trick I think, is getting the right balance of things that make life more pleasurable without going overboard.

    1. HI Roxanne, oh my gosh, the Grand Canyon would be awesome to see!!! LOL! I agree with you on making life more pleasurable. I really hope people get their affairs in order sooner than later. It’s hard to see so many Go Fund Me’s going on. My hope is that people will plan ahead for the unexpected things the best that they can. It’s such a burden to families to have to cover expenses when they are put in a position of having to take care of several family members. My hope is that families with children will purchase Term Life Insurance which is cheap when they are young. It would cover the expenses of a young mother or father who is left behind to care for the family. Linda

  4. Linda, thank you for this article. What a needed topic that no one wants to talk about, but oh, so necessary. Several years ago, after seeing the benefit of putting together a trust we did that. We already had some of the things done as I had to have five abdominal surgeries and realized after the first emergency one, that I had not talked to my husband about my wishes. It was the biggest weight off of my shoulders to get that document together, making those decisions no one wants to think about. This is the best gift you can give your loved ones!!! REALLY.
    Your Care Centers, # 11, is such an important one to have the discussion about. My husband and I already have put a deposit down for a place in a non-profit facility that goes from independent living to memory care and nursing care and even does rehab from surgery. So after we did that, I took a couple of my friends to see several places in town and the one question that we asked everywhere was, “What happens when I run out of money?” In Arizona, there is a funding available if you run out of money and need assistance to care for yourself. You do have to qualify. It is important to have an idea what is available with a first and second choice – – – before you may need it and let your family know where it is. Also it is so important to do this way before memory goes or you cannot communicate for whatever reason. My sisters and I had to move our mother several times as her level of care increased, this why we chose one that all care is in the same place and if/when we are out of money, they will assist in filing of the paperwork. It is good to check for these kinds of benefits in the state where you are and also where parents, brothers/sisters are before considering moving them. My brother has been hospitalized for several weeks and may be thinking of moving to another state – no advance planning is in place that I know of.

    1. Hi Carol, oh you are so right about choosing the care centers beforehand. I have seen so many people who have had to move from one facility to another a lot. They get “shook up” which I totally understand. I can’t imagine having to move out of your comfortable apartment or home to a one bedroom bathroom facility overnight in some cases. Then moving six months later. You are so right about talking about it before our loved ones can no longer communicate. I’m glad you got your trust finished. It helps us sleep at night that’s for sure. I hope your brother makes the right decision. Linda

  5. Hi Linda. Such a timely article! I have been having our children over, showing them where my password are, where our Wills etc. are. I have a file labeled “cemetery” where they will find our paid for plots, music we want at the funeral, how much the funeral home charges for various things. We had a fun conversation. In fact, on Pinterest, I found songs for men and songs for women for the funeral. One is called “Joanne” and sung by Lady Gaga. I told our kids to sing this as they wheel me out of the chapel!!! They loved it…..

  6. Thank you for this list. We have been discussing this for some time. Just last week we bought our burial plots. And we are planning to make a list for our children and have a round table family meeting with them. We want them to ask questions and try to answer them. At my age , I have seen family split over stuff. I have also heard folks say ” My family will never fight over things after I have Gone” But they will.

    1. Hi Sarah, oh I have heard families fight over things after someone dies, I’m glad my husband and I didn’t have issues with our parents passing. You are smart to sit down and work on stuff now. I’ve been asking my husband to write his obituary, he just turned 75. I have been asking him for years. I can’t remember all the things he’s done. As of right now, it will be very short, oh well! LOL! I love your ask questions with family and give answers, great comment! Linda

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