Putting Your Affairs in Order

“Putting Your Affairs in Order,” Ensign, Feb. 1997, 65

Putting Your Affairs in Order

Late one night as I lay in a hospital bed during a serious illness, an impression came forcefully to my mind: Set your house in order. After I recovered from the illness, my wife and I visited with an attorney and signed copies of legal documents we’d had him prepare. Then we reviewed several publications about estate planning and, using these references, prepared other needed documents. Finally we gathered all the information into our own plan book for use in the event of hospitalization or death of a family member. We included the following items:

Personal Information

  • Full name, birth date, birthplace, address, and social security number for each family member.

  • Emergency notification list of family and friends to call in case of death or serious illness.

  • A list of organizations to which each person belongs.

  • Summary of military service information and where corresponding documents are kept.

Legal Information

  • Certified copies of birth and marriage certificates.

  • Durable power of attorney for each parent, which allows legal decisions to be made even when a spouse is incapacitated.

  • A legal will drawn up by an attorney.

  • Trust documents for each parent.

Financial Information

  • Sources of income, lists of assets and liabilities.

  • A list of bank, savings, and credit card accounts, with corresponding account numbers.

  • All real estate holdings, along with the names of mortgage lenders and loan account numbers.

  • Insurance policies, names of agents and numbers to call in case of emergencies, beneficiaries, and a brief summary of provisions.

  • Location of safe deposit boxes and a record of their contents.

Medical Information

  • A list of doctors and their phone numbers; a summary of family members’ known allergies and long-term medications.

  • A statement from each parent regarding donation of organs.

  • A living will, if desired, specifying no use of artificial life-support systems beyond reasonable hope of recovery.

  • Medical power of attorney for each spouse, which allows medical decisions to be made by one spouse in the event the other spouse is too ill to do so.

Funeral Arrangements

  • Funeral and burial information indicating the name of the funeral home and cemetery, the location of burial lots, and a list of which services, if any, have already been prearranged for or prepaid.

  • Drafts of obituaries and funeral programs.

  • A list of professional people familiar with our affairs that may be called upon for help, such as accountants, attorneys, and insurance agents.

We made sure our plan book contained information about where important documents or other needed information can be found. We have a schedule to review the information on a periodic basis and keep it updated.

When my wife and I completed our plan book, we felt a sense of satisfaction in having put our temporal affairs in order. We discussed the contents of the book with our children and showed them where the book would be kept. We kept the original and made one copy, which was given to our eldest son, who will be the executor of our estate. We hope the plan book won’t be needed for many years, but we feel secure knowing it is ready.—Melvin J. Stanford, Provo, Utah