Coming to terms with our mortality may be difficult; thinking about it isn’t much easier.

Many of the families we work with at Family Conversations, share something in common. For some of the older adults, and even some of the adult children, even thinking about the fact that someday we all die, does not come easy. We expend a great deal of energy trying not to think about our own demise. Notice how I didn’t say, death? Demise is so much more gentle.

Here’s a project that will allow us to take some little steps toward reducing the fear around our mortality. We also get to help our loved ones at the same time. This is a gift for the people who you leave behind.

Our first experience with this book was while studying, Age-ing To Sage-ing with Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi. Reb Zalman called it his “God Forbid Book”. He said he kept it on a shelf over his computer, so his family would know where it was when he died. He wanted them to know what his wishes were, and where his important information was located. It’s something you can do that brings comfort to yourself, and your loved ones. When people are in grief, it’s one less burden for them.

My Peace of Mind Book™ contains the papers and information your relatives, or other people close to you, will need both before, and after, you die. A good idea is to have a session with family and/or friends to discuss this book. Look it over every year and update it to reflect changes in legal and financial status, as well as your personal wishes. Taking the time to put this together is a real gift for your survivors. It also helps you come to terms with your own mortality.

Here are many of the items that will help you and your loved ones begin taking steps to come to terms with your mortality. Many people use a large notebook or an accordion file for much of this. ** (( C )) – copies of these documents can also go to your attorney and doctors

A. Funeral arrangements and wishes. Cemetery plot deed. (( C ))
B. Advanced Health Directives: Living Will, Five Wishes (tm) (if legal in your state) (( C ))
C. Durable Power of Attorney (( C ))
D. Emergency phone numbers and email addresses
E. Obituary
F. List of people to be notified with home addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses
G. Keys: House, car, safe deposit box, other important keys (labeled)
H. Safety deposit box (and keys). Include a list of what’s inside the box and the location of the box
I. Passwords for credit cards, bank accounts, computer accounts, etc.
J. Computer login information and passwords
K. Long-Term Care Policy
L. Hospice Care – contacts and information about what’s available
M. Wills and Trusts (( C ))
N. Important documents: Social security card, V.A. card, birth certificate, marriage license, divorce decree, etc.
O. Insurance papers: Life, home, automobile, etc.
P. Legal papers: Mortgage(s), deeds, rental agreement (lease), automobile title, appraisals, etc.
Q. Financial Information: Bank accounts, checking account, savings including Certificates of Deposit (CDs), Stocks, bonds, mutual funds, other investments
R. Personal goods list: who wants what; who gets what (items possibly not in the will); what goes somewhere else – charity or an organization
S. Ethical Will, personal letters, computer files (CDs, flash drives, cloud)
T. Social security and/or Employee Pension information. 401k plans
U. Medicare and Medicaid records
V. Tax records
W. Business information: owned by you alone, partners
X. Photographs (label them)
Y. Genealogy
Z. Get copies of Death Certificate (a few copies, 3-5)

In addition to a hard copy, have all this information, whenever possible, on a disk, flash drive, stored in the cloud, or a mobile hard drive

My Peace of Mind Book © by Rich Kessler & Marian Eisner 2017 (revised)