Peace of Heart and Mind

Old people aren’t afraid of dying.  We’re really afraid of leaving a mess behind for someone else to clean up, of leaving a burden for our loved ones.

There are steps you can take, before you go, to leave your earthly affairs as tidy as possible.  Over the last three months we’ve been doing that, and it’s been quite educational.  Our estate is as simple as can be since we don’t own anything but our house and two cars; we have no large investments or stocks or real estate holdings or trusts or anything complicated at all, nor do we have large debts.  But in the world of legalities even simple can entail a number of decisions and a heck of a lot of paperwork.

Our goal was to make it all as easy on our adult children, of which there are four, as possible.

We began with the assumption that the eldest son would be willing to be named as our executor as he was when we made a simple will ten years or so ago.  But he asked his dad out to lunch and told him that he did not want that responsibility any longer.  I would be lying if I said that this did not have a profound emotional effect on us; for awhile it felt like abandonment and made us sad.

But on the other hand that was the catalyst for action.  It forced us to have what I feel was a really good conversation with our boys in Austin.  Your children are always reluctant to have that death and dying conversation but to me it is good and necessary.  My feelings about it come from my own experience as an only child.  My parents would NEVER talk with me about the possibility that they would ever die, never shared their wishes or their finances; they apparently felt that it was none of my business.  As a result, I was less of a good and caring daughter than I might of been, and I regret that.

So we asked another son to bear the load of executorship and he agreed with total grace and love, and the next son agreed to be his back-up. They’ve got us covered and we are relieved.

We found a smart young probate attorney and met with her twice and now have thoroughly updated will and medical documents.  We’ve given disks to the guys with copies of everything.  We met with our smart young financial advisor and got our new executor listed on our annuity documents.  We met with our smart young banker and she updated the documents having to do with our bank accounts.  Both of us carry cards with the information that we wish to donate our bodies to the Southwestern Medical Center body donation program; if our bodies are rejected for some reason, we’ve requested a simple cremation.  We’ve encouraged our kids to remember us in any way they like–have a party (I’ll be there!), plant a tree, donate to a good cause, or whatever creative thing they can come up with.

The result of our efforts is peace of heart and mind.  When both of us are gone our kids have every bit of information they need to tidy things up, including a document that lists things like account numbers, passwords, and so forth.  Now that everything has been discussed and documented, we can all put it away and not think about it anymore.  All is well.

Love is everything.



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This entry was posted on Thursday, October 30th, 2014 at 10:03 am and is filed under Things to Think About. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

One Response to “Peace of Heart and Mind”

  1. Martha Bailey on October 31st, 2014 at 6:49 am

    Very smart! My parents did that for me and I want to do it for my kids, too!