Family Checklist

This year has been anything but normal. At the end of 2019, who would have thought we would have a pandemic, hurricanes, wildfires, riots and a society that more splintered than ever.

In our own life, we have also been faced with the challenge of being the care takers for a friend who lives 1,300 miles away. He has been in and out of hospitals and rehabilitation units and we are unable to travel to his state due to corona virus restrictions. It has not been easy!

Many years ago, our friend gave us Power of Attorney for his heath care and financial affairs. Which was fine as far as it went. When a serious medical situation arose we had to step in and take care of his many obligations but we were missing a LOT of details. We didn’t have information about how to access his bank account or credit cards.

We had no idea about his monthly bills, and other financial obligations. We didn’t know how much income he had every month, the source of the income and if it was enough to cover his bills. It would have been very helpful to have had a list of key contacts such as his financial advisor, lawyer and doctors. We also needed a list of URL’s, security questions, user ID’s, and passwords for online accounts and email accounts.

Like many people, we always thought there was more time to gather details. It was distressing to try and help without having the details or information we needed in order to actually do anything. In our case, though, the issues were somewhat remote since his finances do not affect us directly. What would happen if the same situation applied to you and your spouse or a close family member?  What would happen if you had no idea of your family income, or financial obligations?

Nobody plans for accidents, illness or death. It’s intimidating and depressing to tackle these topic and much easier to always put the “Talk” aside, and push it into the future.  We can be unnerved by the emotions that might surface when talking about these eventualities, so we procrastinate, leaving important decisions unmade and important information uncommunicated.

Most families struggle with matters concerning death and inheritance. Dealing with the reality of your death or the death, illness or incapacitation of a loved one is unpleasant at best and frightening at worst.  No wonder people tend to put it off intentionally and habitually. But let’s remind ourselves of three realities:

We all will die. As Isaiah told King Hezekiah, “Thus says the LORD, ‘Set your house in order, for you are about to die’” (2 Kings 20:1).

We will take nothing with us as Job said. “Naked I came forth from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I go back there.” (Job 1:21).

Someone else will get our stuff, as Solomon said about his possessions: . “…I must leave them to the one who is to come after me. And who knows whether that one will be wise or a fool? Yet that one will take control of all the fruits of my toil and wisdom under the sun.” (Ecclesiastes 2:18-19).

We plead with you to become diligent in your efforts to get out of debt, give generously, budget, save, and work as unto the Lord.  In short, become a faithful steward and be sure to create, update and organize all your important information in case your family needs it.

One of the best ways to tackle this seemingly overwhelming task is the Compass Catholic Set Your House in Order Bible study. Getting your house in order is the best gift you can give to your family in case of accident, illness or death.

Our friend, Randy Walker who is a Set Your House in Order facilitator from the Diocese of Wichita said this in a recent newsletter:

The idea of setting your house in order is to make as many of these decisions as possible prior to your death.  The purpose is to give your loved ones left behind a gift to help them chart their path for the ‘new normal’ they now find themselves in.  What parent would not give their child advice when they leave home to go out on their own?  The same is true for us who leave others behind following our death.

My wife and I are completing this checklist now.  We have a weekly meeting between ourselves to set aside time to address each item.  Are the conversations always fun?…..No!  However, we know they are necessary, plus it helps us address a difficult subject in an orderly way, and sometimes we do chuckle at our ideas.  The checklist also reminds us of things we may have overlooked as we have set our house in order.  The list is almost overwhelming.  In the end, the checklist creates a sense of urgency to get this done.  The last thing we want is for one of us, or our children, to address this list after we have died.  While it is overwhelming for us, it would be much more so for them.

Make the list a gift to your loved ones.  Gifts require preparation and thought.  Your effort into making this gift complete and done with love for those you want to take care, now and after your death, will be greatly appreciated.  Happy Planning!

Click here for more information on the Set Your House In Order Bible study.

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