Leaders rarely plan for their sudden death, often leaving their personal and professional affairs in a mess. Part of good, strategic leadership is thinking and planning ahead for the unexpected or untimely. Good stewardship of your responsibilities, both personal and professional, means preparing for a transition should something happen to you unexpectedly. Let’s examine the personal aspect first.
It is extremely helpful if you collect all the important, vital documents and information in one centralized place and that your spouse knows where this is located with easy access. I placed my info in a “What to Do If” notebook. Should something happen to me – plane crash, car accident, heart attack, etc.) my wife knows where to go to help her sort through the myriad of decisions that she will be facing. Here’s some of the items in my notebook.
1. Living Will and Medical Power of Attorney – make sure it’s up to date; you may want to include your wishes for the funeral or memorial service and the disposal of your remains; these are copies as the originals are kept in the safe deposit box
2. Computer and Hard Drive/Cloud Backup access – passwords and PINs
3. Financial Records – banking, credit cards, investments; account numbers, websites, phone numbers, passwords; safe deposit box access and inventory of box
3. Life Insurance Policies – amounts on policies and contact information for filing a claim; you may even list suggestions on what to do with the payouts
4. Other Assets – any other asset of value; properties, collections, antiques (consider designating the distribution of particular items, especially family heirlooms)
5. Memberships, Warranties, Maintenance Agreements – location and type of memberships and warranties for household items or autos
6. Monthly Bills – what bills are due monthly, quarterly, annually and how to pay them
7. Personal Records – birth certificates, passports, marriage certificate – location of files
I collected all of the above information into one notebook – the What to Do If notebook. Should my wife get word of my death, she knows where to go for guidance. I collected the most important details in a two page executive summary at the beginning of the notebook and the rest is filled with copies of statements, records, etc. for her to reference, if needed.
We have talked over the contents of the notebook together to clarify any questions she may have. I also asked my oldest son to review the notebook with both of us, so that he can lend objective support in executing the details after I’m gone.
Loving care and good stewardship means we plan for the unexpected and help prepare a way forward for those we leave behind. Seek to make it as easy as possible for them. Taking the initiative and planning ahead means you really do care!
Where’s your notebook? Does your spouse know where it is?