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putting your affairs in order: 17 steps

Updated: Mar 7, 2019

I recently worked with a client who was aware that his life was coming to an end and as such, he wanted to make sure that his affairs were in order. When people think about death, they think of grief and all the feelings associated with it. They rarely think about the paperwork involved and that the next of kin will be left with a lot of administration. When I work with clients in this situation, my goal is to make it as easy as possible for the person or people they leave behind.

My client passed away a couple of months ago, with a file in his bedside table called ‘death papers.’ He had a wicked sense of humor and although when I met him, we mostly prepared for death, it also served as an opportunity for him to talk about his amazing life.

My best suggestion for a repository of information is a book I found on Amazon a few years ago, I'm Dead, Now What but if you can’t stomach that, there’s another version of the same book called, Peace of Mind Planner. Below is a list of information (from the book) that needs to be known by your next of kin. In parenthesis I have added a few extra comments.

  1. My Personal Information – name, address, family, occupation, citizenship, etc.

  2. My medical Information – medical conditions, health insurance, primary care physician, hospital, what needs to be done if I am incapacitated

  3. Key Contact Information – executor, attorney, financial advisor, insurance agent, health care providers, clergyperson

  4. At the Time of My Passing – people to contact, about the arrangements, obituary information

  5. My Dependents – information about dependents and instructions for their care

  6. Important Documents – Will, driver’s license, passport, birth certificate, marriage certificate, (social security card)

  7. Financial Information – power of attorney, bank accounts, credit and debit cards, investments, tax records, safe deposit box (+ keys), what I owe, what is owed to me

  8. Commercial Business Information – About my business (and how to close it down)

  9. What Beneficiaries Can Expect – life insurance policies, employer benefits, Social Security, retirement accounts

  10. Personal Property – residence, real estate, commercial property, vehicles, heirlooms, personal effects, firearms (whether or not they are loaded and whether or not they were obtained legally), storage units, safe, hidden valuables (if possible, lifetime giving is a better option than searching after death)

  11. Insurance – life, home, rental, health, motor vehicle, (pet) other

  12. My Pets – pet names, information, who will care for my pets, instructions for care

  13. What to Pay, Close, and Cancel – utilities, mobile phone, cable/internet, online and auto-pay accounts, charities, subscriptions, membership, etc. (passwords for accounts!!)

  14. Email and Social Media – user names and passwords for email, social media

  15. Miscellaneous Information – What I want caregivers to know if I am unable to communicate

  16. My Personal Wishes

  17. Last Words

This process can be done at any age and the earlier, the better. Hopefully you put your affairs in order and you don’t need to touch anything for 50 years but as most of you know, life can change on a dime. It’s a lot of information, I know but 1) it doesn’t need to be done all at once, and 2) think about how much easier you’ll make the life of your next of kin. Write the information in pencil so that it can be changed.

Try my tips and above and let me know how it goes! You can email me at and follow me on Instagram @toritheorganizer.


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