I am impressed. Trust me, it takes a lot to impress me. I have found a website about money, insurance, living wills, and other life planning needs that I will be able to remember for many years to come. It has a ring to it, and if I am talking to a friend or colleague, I will not have to rack my brain to remember their URL. Ready for it?
Clever right? They focus on creating a will, a living will, setting up your insurance…the list goes on. The creator of the site, Chanel Reynolds, lost her husband last summer when he was hit while on a bike ride. She spent months recreating her financial life, then decided to start her website (which just went live this month) to help others get their shit together.
While no one in my family was hit by a bike, I can relate to Chanel because of my own life experiences, all of which have made me passionate about these issues. When both of my parents passed on (I was 16 and 21), they had no life insurance, no health insurance, no living will, or will. When my mom passed on I was 16, which means I was still a minor. At the time, if my father did not take custody of me there was a possibility that I would have been taken under the care of the state. Did my parents ever think or plan for such occurrence? Probably not. If they had then there would have been documentation of what would happen to me. I like to think they would have done the due diligence to make sure that was in place, but it was not. Not a fun way to mourn.
At each point in my life when my parents passed on, my siblings and I had to come up with money to pay for both of my parent’s funerals, as well as incur different expenses to travel to and from their respective homes (they were divorced by then) to deal with any remaining possessions, most of which went to Goodwill. Rather than have the opportunity to grieve, we had to act fast, plan the cheapest funeral, and go through their possessions as quickly as possible in order to not have to continue to pay their rent and other expenses.
A will, life insurance, and directions on what arrangements they wanted at their death would have helped my brother, sister, me to have the option to be present in losing our parents at such a young age. Instead we had to make difficult choices very quickly during highly emotional times. I do not want to put my future children in that situation. It is important to take the time to legally document your financial and legal choices for your affairs. Once you have it documented, take the time to discuss with the necessary individuals (whether your children or siblings, etc.) so they understand your wishes. I can tell you from experience if you do not have those conversations now, it can cause riffs in a family during an already emotionally charged time.
Due to the situation I was in, I strongly encourage anyone with kids to take the time and proper steps to “get your shit together.” Do it for your spouse. Do it for your kids. Do it for your parents. Yes, it is morbid to talk about the “what-ifs” if you were to die. It is not fun, but it is reality. Take the time to have the hard conversations with your spouse and get your shit together.