We all like to be well organised. So many of us plan our weekends, our workday, our children’s activities and so much more. We forget to plan for the one event that is ultimately inevitable. The end of our lives. It is surprising to learn that studies have shown that over 45% of Australians do not have a will. No doubt these folk have done nothing else to plan for their ending – as there other things we need to do. I encourage people to do some end-of-life planning.
Next of Kin
What happens if there is an event, (accident or health event) that requires emergency services or others to make contact with your next of kin? It is especially important for those who live alone to ensure that their next of kin is easily identifiable and contactable.
Why not put details in the glove box of your car? Get an envelope, and a sheet of paper, and on the paper write the names, addresses, and all contact details of your next of kin. Preferably one or two people – and it may be that you have no real next of kin, so you would provide details (with their permission) of someone who knows you very well, and perhaps has access to health and other information about yourself.)
Put it in the glovebox of your car – and mark it in big letters. ICE. In Case of Emergency.
If you are a user of a smartphone there are a number of Apps, where you can keep some of this information.
Don’t forget to update it if things change. e.g. your address, phone number, next of kin etc.
Envelope of Knowledge
There is other information that would be helpful in the event of a serious health issue or your demise, and if you made a note of it, and “parked” it in a place that is easily accessible, and let your family, next of kin, or important person in your life, know where it is, it will make life easier for those left behind. These documents will be very helpful at the end of your life.
Shortly I will upload a more formal list, but consider what you can put in the envelope.
- Write your full name, date and place of birth, a copy of Birth Certificate would be good too, and if you have marriage, divorce documents.
- Your next of kin – name/s, addresses, contact details
- Your Last Will and Testament. it is best to have this legally done – so seek advice re this
- Details of your bank accounts (just bank name, account name and number)
- Property details (can be quite brief here)
- Health Directive – how do you wish to be supported when the end is near?
- List of people who you wish will be advised of your demise.
- Your Funeral Wishes
I like to add to this list with a couple of items that are not essential but can be very helpful for the family at this time.
- The Story of Your life!
- Suggestions for your Funeral.
(More details on this on a later post).
Storage and Updating
Your Envelope of Knowledge needs to be in an easily accessible place. Adhered to the side of the refrigerator is a good place – but you can choose where it is. Let your NOK and important people know where it is.
Update it from time to time. Perhaps a task to do at the end of every year or the beginning – it’s up to you. Or as information changes. e.g. change of address of anyone, contact details etc. Make sure your details are really helpful at the end of your life.
Peace of Mind
Research has shown that people who are well organised with this information are more relaxed about the possibility of their demise, and often live longer as they don’t have the stress of not having done their planning.
Why am I interested in this topic? Two reasons:
- I am trying to get my affairs in order. Just because I can.
- Recently have been informed of the drama of someone who was found unconscious in her unit, and no support documents could be found e.g. next of kin
- I encourage people to pen their own life stories – even a precis of their life!