One of my home goals for 2022 is “plan for the worst.”
Matt’s death showed me how important it is to be prepared for your worst case scenario. There are absolutely critical things like a will to protect your family. Or everyday things like making sure someone knows where you bank, how you pay your bills, or even what your important passwords are.
Beyond illness or death, severe weather and natural disasters are other factors that have a tragic impact on people every year. And with climate change, these incidents are happening more frequently.
I want to ensure that I do everything possible to protect Ellie, myself and the farm. My plan is to focus on one “prep” task a month.
Here are some of the things on my list so far:
Last month we received our renewal notice for our home insurance, so I called our agent to make sure we have the coverage we need. Our conversation was a lot of “If we have a wildfire/electrical fire/flood/tree fall on the house/ice storm/power outage/tornado am I covered?”
Our insurance policy is very, very challenging to understand–I’ve tried to read it. Our agent was able to answer my questions and explain details of the coverage that gave me peace of mind. I also made sure the new garage and mudroom are included in our policy and that my freelance communications business doesn’t need any special coverage.
In addition to home insurance, life insurance is an important consideration for many families.
Our important documents are stored in a fireproof safe. They’re protected, but they may not be accessible in a disaster. I am going to make extra copies–both paper and digital–so that we have multiple options in case we ever need them.
A household inventory seems daunting. How do I list absolutely everything in my home? Chris Love Julia shared their experience after a fire at their cabin, and their advice is to take a yearly, personal inventory video. This is doable. I’m going to go one room at a time, open every drawer and every cupboard.
Having a bag packed and ready to go in case we ever need to evacuate seemed like something I didn’t need to worry about. We’re not in an area that is prone to floods or fires. But then I thought about the big pines beside our house. What if one of them fell on the house? Could I get what we needed quickly and easily? A few things in a bag in the hall closet seems like a helpful idea.
Matt and I made our wills when Ellie was born. When he died, our lawyer advised that I didn’t need to update my will, as everything was already set up to go to Ellie if I die. However, things feel a little different now that it’s just me–not as hypothetical. Most of what Matt and I decided together for Ellie still stands (her guardians, for example). But I want to make some adjustments to ensure that Ellie is as protected as possible.
I’ve made some changes to our finances over the last year. As a result I have some old accounts that need to be closed. Leaving them feels like clutter and could be confusing for my executor. I am also going to make a list of what accounts I have and give that to my executor.
My family is pretty open with each other, so we have talked about estate plans, end of life care and finances. I want to have this conversation again with my sister, who is my executor, to ensure that she knows what’s in place and what my wishes are. I’ll also be providing her with a copy of important documents and other critical information, just in case she ever needs it.
These are not fun tasks, but I know they will give me peace of mind. And, if worst comes to worst, hopefully they will help to protect Ellie, our home, the farm and me.
My husband and I were well prepared, but have not kept up on several of the items you’ve listed, such as choosing a different executor, household inventory, and revamping our living wills. Great job, and I love your idea of tackling one item per month!
Thanks. Revisiting things as your life changes is important. Once you have some things in place, it’s sometimes easier to update them.
No one “likes” to discuss these things but it is so important for the one you may leave behind.
My parents are still healthy and active but they have been preparing documents lately.
My stepson is in the Army and with the risk of being deployed soon, he has prepared his will, power of attorney, life insurance.
However Steve and I have not. Thank you for reminding me of the importance in every stage of life.
Thanks for sharing some of your experiences, Sarah. You are correct. No matter what our situation is, these things are important.
I really like your idea of taking on one of these tasks every month. That is less overwhelming than just looking at the whole list. I need to make sure we are shipshape as well, and that way feels less daunting.
I hope you join me in it!
Julia, my deepest sympathy for your loss. I recently started reading your blog, and I didn’t realize that your husband passed away. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. This post was excellent because most of us, that includes me, rarely think about preparing for things like death, illness, and catastrophes. Thanks for your advice, and again I am so sorry for your loss.
Thank you for your kindness, Marcela. I appreciate your thoughts.