Motley Moose – Archive

Since 2008 – Progress Through Politics

Nurse Kelley Sez: If You Die, How Will We Know?

Dying is a matter of “when”, not “if”. Pretty much everyone knows what they should do to make their final arrangements, and doing so is not just for the old and infirm. Even you college students could get hit by a bus and die tomorrow. If you’ve got more than a few possessions or think you might even consider having children someday or don’t want your brothers to fight over your DVD collection, you need a will. If you’ve got a complicated family of in-laws, outlaws, stepkids and exes, you REALLY need a will. If you are the parent or guardian of a disabled person you need to make legal arrangements and trusts NOW. If you are a member of the GLBT community and don’t yet have the same rights as everyone else, you MUST have a will.

If you have strong feelings about organ donation (you do, don’t you?) don’t just sign a donor card. Your family can override your wishes when you die. Your Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare, your Living Will, and your Power of Attorney should be executed, discussed with your next of kin and safely stored where they can retrieve them when needed. Don’t forget to choose a guardian for your kids and make arrangements for your pets.

Today’s topic is more about notifications than arrangements. It was simple enough when my parents died; we notified family members and close friends, then got in touch with the company Daddy worked for his entire life. Both my parents graduated from Rice University and were active in the alumni association, so we called them and asked them to get the word out. They’d volunteered for a variety of organizations and causes, and they’d been members of the same church for eons. We knew which neighbors they were friends with and we called them. Their address books provided the names of friends we weren’t aware of, and obituaries in the local paper were seen by the one or two friends we’d missed.

My, how times have changed! Address books have been replaced with password protected computers and handheld devices. If your survivors are lucky enough to know (or guess) your passwords, what then? Will they know which social networking site(s) you frequent … and how to get into them? Do they know if you’re in secret facebook groups, and how to contact someone in the group?

What about the financial sites you use? I’ve got a Power of Attorney and my son knows where it is, but he could begin managing my affairs immediately if he knew how to access my accounts online. Should I give him that information now? Just in case? If not, what do I do with the myriad web addresses and sign-in names and passwords currently clogging my brain?

More to the point today, if you die and you’re still an active member of this crazy place, how will we know?

At the end of 2009 I saw a posting on facebook that resonated with me. I don’t remember who posted it, so this is as close as I can come to the original:

My New Year’s resolution is to stop referring to you guys as my internet friends. You’re friends, period.

Do Nurse Kelley a favor, please. Tell someone you love and trust how to access your account here, or how to get in touch with a mutual friend here. Don’t just disappear:

 photo de7b6945-f572-4348-958c-4f576d1ff154_zps1e331280.jpg

Republished by request


  1. slksfca

    …I’m really NOT being morbid: I’ve had repeated reminders as part of the surgery experience about making an Advance Directive so it’s a natural progression.

    I have no idea at the moment how my affairs would be managed. I know WHO — my sister — but I really should get the necessary info to her (including contact info for at least one of my friends from online). Thanks for the reminder!

  2. bubbanomics

    the f-bomb will not be a pleasant place to visit for awhile.

    srsly, my son will post when necessary.

  3. kishik

    you’re right!!  A friend of mine, widowed a few years back, was able to access most all of her husband’s various accounts because they knew each other’s information.  There was only one that she had no idea existed and it took some time to resolve it.

    thanks Nurse Kelley!!

  4. and revised it on the birth of each child. We also have instructions for hospital care (DNRs and such). From experience, I know that that can really be a nightmare (even WITH instructions).

    But social networks? I hadn’t thought about it at all.

    Of course, if I am missing for a long time and ya’ll miss me, you could Google and you’d probably find out. That’s ONE advantage of using my real name (and having an odd one).

  5. wordsinthewind

    so now I am, thank you Nurse Kelly. I will have a discussion with mr w who no doubt has already thought about it.  

  6. JG in MD

    Doing a search the other day I came across my emails from Will. They were the ones I couldn’t find when we were writing the eulogy.

    My IRL friend Rhona probably wouldn’t be able willing to tweet or post posting my situation. I don’t involve my nieces and nephew in my personal life but one or two of their adult kids would be amenable to communicating with you folks.

    But I don’t want them to start thinking of me as someone they need to worry about. Also don’t want them thinking Hmmm, we may have to support her one day. Although it’s true.

    I have a computer savvy friend in Pittsburgh, but I’d have to be able to send her my passwords and who to notify, and that changes… oh hell, I’ll think about it tomorrow.

  7. pittiepat

    able (yet) to update things since moving to Missouri.  I do have what I call my “Fell Off The Perch” notebook which has originals and copies of all relevant documents: will, General Power of Attorney, Living Will, car title, birth certificate, social security card, etc.  I also have a list of all my accounts whether it be banking, credit/debit cards and so on.  This list contains account numbers, ID’s and passwords.  I also have instructions for my wake and disposal of property.  States like Colorado make it easy to dispose of non-real estate property — you simply make a list of who gets what.  Other states require distributions of all belongings detailed in the will itself.  It does get complicated.  

  8. Cheryl Kopec

    “Make a will” has been on my to-do list for years…. I’m lucky to have finally filed my taxes last night, and I still overlooked just under $50 of interest/dividend income. But on the topic, what about maintaining a master password list in a safe deposit box (or just a safe), to be opened in the event of our demise?

  9. bfitzinAR

    stuck to the cabinet next to my phone and my x-mas card list is in the cabinet.  Teh PQ is on both lists and she’d let everybody on DK & here know.  I don’t have a will but do need to get the “living will” done.  The problem with those things is they have to both be renewed regularly and practically need to be on your person for the Medical Industry to pay any attention.  My house and car are both owned with a friend (my best friend who helped me get them in the first place – she’s on the title with “rights of survivor”) and she’s also the back up person on my bank accounts (and “aunty” to the cats) so I’ve never worried about the will part.  My boys wouldn’t fight over my other possessions because they aren’t particularly interested in exceedingly used furniture and 3rd- or 4th-hand science fantasy or “whimsical” murder mystery paperbacks. The older might want my collection of old cookbooks, the younger wouldn’t. (And that pootie pic always makes me cry, dammit!)

  10. Will do.

    On that point, we are going to soon lose an old friend and fellow Moose. Bill Tchakirides (btchakir) is in hospice care. His wife Ellen has posted two updates on his blog Under the Lobsterscope;

    Update on Bill

    MAR 31

    Posted by btchakir

    It has been three weeks since we last visited our dogs in Harper’s Ferry, WV. For the last three Sundays, the dogs have had to come to visit Bill. They are a bit confused, as is Bill.

    Penny and I cannot get out much, as someone has to be with Bill at all times. Friends and family have been kind enough to visit us, play music, just talk, sit, and to even bring our dogs to us. I feel like we are surrounded by wonderful compassionate souls.

    Bill continues to rest comfortably and he appears to be in no pain. He has moments when he is aware of his surroundings and what is going on. At those times, he  struggles to maintain his connection to the world. He enjoys music, especially Les Miserable, and eating oranges, pineapple chunks, and cashews.


    Love you, Bill, and miss you.

Comments are closed.