Aging Successfully: Putting our affairs in order

  • Wednesday, April 22, 2020 1:30am
  • Opinion

This time of self-isolation is the perfect time to put our affairs in order, or at least to begin the process. The good news is putting our affairs in order is not complicated, though it might be detailed.

A person may think the easiest way is to download a blank Washington State Will form; this is not the wisest option. There are many forms and it is easy to select one which is incorrect. It is always wise to consult with an estate attorney. During this isolation many attorneys are working remotely and a few like my friend, Steve Gish, even go into their offices as needed.

The three key areas to address when planning our estates are legal, financial and medical.

Legal: The most important thing under legal is to appoint an executor, be it a relative, friend or a professional. Their main function is to make sure everything you want accomplished is done correctly. Please make sure you ask permission before hand.

Financial: Here is the place to list all assets, including bank accounts and other financial institution information. Remember to include contact information.

Medical: Washington State requires an End of Life Directive form. Three websites which deal with this are End of Life Washington, Washington State Medical Association and Honoring Choices Pacific Northwest. Again, check with a reputable attorney and also with your Primary Care Provider. It is my recommendation to email your Primary Care Provider with a list of questions.

And more …

I would like to suggest two additional areas for consideration when planning our end of life, even though they are not a part of the actual estate planning.

The first is to never tell family and friends you do not want a Memorial Service. These services are for the benefit of those you leave behind, not for you. Your important people need this time and place to officially grieve their loss, and to share memories of you.

It would be most beneficial for your loved ones to have guidelines from you on how to plan your service. Even something simple like listing your favorite hymns and songs is helpful.

The second is to practice Swedish Cleaning which is making sure our homes and personal belongings are organized before we pass on. The reason for this is to make it easier for those who must deal with our belongings once we pass on. Swedish Cleaning is in addition to a written list of who gets at. While this sounds like the obvious thing to do, when it is not practiced the chaos creates additional stress for grieving loved ones.

Even with the help of my siblings it took six months to go through our mother’s boxes of papers, this was in addition to her personal belongings. During this time of self-isolation I am finally sorting through my deceased husband’s boxes. We do not want to add this stress to loved ones who are already grieving.

Because Sequim is a retirement community there is an abundance of local resources for everything we need for putting our affairs in order, starting with a reputable estate attorney.

Once a month Shipley Center has experts, associated with Olympic Medical Center, come in and talk about this subject. Currently I have no additional information. After this crisis is past Shipley Center and Olympic Medical Center would be happy to share additional information with you.

Send me an email letting us know how you are spending your extra time: information@crystallinn.com.

Crystal Linn is a multi-published author and an award winning poet. When not writing, or teaching workshops, Crystal enjoys reading a good mystery, hiking, and sailing with friends and family.

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