As the COVID-19 pandemic continues apace with seemingly nothing to mitigate it other than our personal precautions, it strikes me that this is exactly the kind of situation that demands we get our affairs in order. This disease is unpredictable and there's no telling what might happen to a given individual if or when they contract it.
Some people get sick and exhausted for an extended period of time. Others decline precipitously, go into the hospital, and may die. In either case, that person could be unable to fulfill their usual obligations - and they may also miss the opportunity to pass along certain vital information.
With that in mind, I'm going to think out loud here about what would be necessary for someone to know if I became seriously ill or incapacitated or died. My list is pretty hefty because I'm in charge of running my household, but I think you'll be able to figure out how to pick out what applies to you and extrapolate additional items.
Phone numbers and/or email addresses for:
- Your supervisor at your job.
- If you're a freelancer, your active client contacts.
- Any close family members you would want to be aware of your situation.
- Any very close friends you would want to know what's up.
- Key representatives of various friend groups and clubs/organizations you belong to.
You'd want to specify the circumstances under which you'd want someone to contact each of those groups.
- Every bill that needs to be paid, including the company name, account number, payment address, customer service number and what day of the month it's due. This means utilities, mortgage loans or rent, car loans, credit cards, insurance policies and anything else you pay on a regular basis. With paper bills increasingly uncommon, it could be difficult for someone to track down the information without some help.
- All recurring payments that are automatically debited, such as online news subscriptions, streaming entertainment services, Amazon Prime, Patreon accounts, monthly charitable donations, and insurance policies. Include logins, account numbers, customer service numbers and other cancellation information, if possible.
- Any regular deliveries such as standard weekly grocery orders, monthly pet food orders, recurring Amazon orders, prescriptions, subscription boxes, newspaper or magazine subscriptions, etc. Again, customer service numbers and account numbers would be helpful.
- Names and phone numbers of the people or companies you regularly use for things like plumbing, HVAC repair and maintenance, electrical repairs, gutter cleaning, yard work, house cleaning, etc. If someone else needed to step in to get something done around your house, it just makes sense to use these existing resources.
- You know that secret code your alarm company asks for when the alarm goes off by accident? Give that to someone you trust.
- Write down the names, ages and descriptions of your pets. List what brands of food they eat along with their feeding schedules and portion amounts. Also include the name and contact information for your veterinarian or vet clinic and any pet sitter or boarding facility you use.
- Company name, rep name and phone number (if applicable), account number and customer service number for every relevant insurance policy. Definitely any life insurance, but also health insurance, auto insurance, homeowner's insurance, etc. Make it as easy as possible if someone needs to file a claim or cancel a policy.
- All investment account information: 401(k)s, IRAs, Roth IRAs, etc. Make sure anyone who's a beneficiary is aware that they are listed. For that matter, review your beneficiary lists and make any necessary changes now.
- If you're employed, who should someone contact if they need to access any of the resources or policies you have through work? Make sure to also list the name and contact information for your supervisor and possibly their supervisor so someone with a personal stake can help.
- Where to find important paperwork like wills and living wills, advance directives, and vehicle titles.
- Choose a password manager, put in all the account login information other people might need, and set up emergency access for the people you choose.
- If you want someone to be able to manage your Facebook account after you die, designate a Legacy Contact. It's listed under General Settings/Memorialization Settings.
- LinkedIn has a process to request removal of an account if someone dies, but I personally don't think it would be worth the hassle.
That's all I can think of off the top of my head but it's a lot, right? Think about how daunting it would be for someone else to have to try to dig it all up on their own. Some of these things would be impossible for anyone to know or find out if you didn't or couldn't tell them.
I'm generally a pretty optimistic person, but we're all in the midst of a dire and unpredictable situation. Now that we've all stocked up on flour, yeast and toilet paper, this is something we can do to keep ourselves occupied and prepared in a different way.