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:
Republished by request