Marcel Proust once wrote “But old age, to begin with, has something in common with death. Some face it with indifference, not because they have more courage than others, but because they have less imagination.”
Recently, I had the pleasure of meeting another author, Jonathan Braddock, whose new book Click Here When I Die offers some very practical advice on how to thoughtfully prepare for your own passing—which is a big help to any loved ones who have to close things out for you here. Here’s a short Q&A to hit the main issues, but I encourage everyone to pick up this book and work on your own plans TODAY!
Q: So, Jonathan — why did you write this book?
A: It was four years ago, a beautiful Monday morning. My wife and I were actually playing golf and on the fourth hole, when her cellphone started ringing. We found out that Michelle’s father had just passed away at home on the bedroom floor. Naturally, we left the balls where they lay and headed home. The questions started to flow. Such as, what funeral home should we take them to, etc. ? We don’t know, there are several in town and we’re forced into making decisions from that point forward. It actually took us an excess of 10 months to locate everything and close out all the details of his life. During that process, it occurred to me that if something were to happen to Michelle and me, our children would have no clue. They would have no idea where to locate documents, where we bank, what kind of accounts we have, proof of ownership. I thought, “Something has to be done” and as I talked with people, going through this process and explaining what we were going through, everyone wanted to share their stories with me. They said “jeez, when my mom passed” or “when I lost my brother…” Everyone seems to experience the same thing.
Q: Why don’t more people have plans like this?
A: I don’t know. But it’s a fact that no one gets out of here alive. 1 out of 1 of us will, in fact, die. Technology, while making our lives so simple, has made our departure so much more complicated because people have to be able to find, locate and access all this information. It’s not doom and gloom. It’s going to happen to all of us, so why not talk about it?
Q: So you recommend creating a plan, a roadmap to help loved ones make decisions and close out accounts, etc.
A: Yes and there are many options from a paper letter and paper files to a Google doc to my own platform designed to help people navigate through this called mylifeandwishes.com
Q: It’s a big thing — how does someone even get started on something like this?
A: Well, I always start with one question. What do you want the experience (when you’re gone) to be like for your family or fill in the blank spouse, kids, et cetera,? What do you want THEIR experience to be like? My first suggestion is have you clearly expressed your wishes to your family as to whether or not you wanted to be cremated or buried? Because a very good friend of mine, Nick, when we had a conversation a couple of years ago he said, “I wish I had known mom wanted to be cremated before I buried her.”
Q: And after that?
A: Statistically, over 50 percent of family tend to have to put out money upfront to cover funeral costs. Many times they never recoup that back. So do you have life insurance? Because life insurance is wonderful, but only if people know you have it. Did you know there’s been over a billion dollars in life insurance that has gone unpaid in the United States. That’s because beneficiaries didn’t know the policy existed!
Q: Yes, and since people work for many employers over their careers, it’s possible there are multiple policies in effect.
A: True, everyone is different, but the key is to think about this stuff NOW before it’s too late.
Q: What has the response to the book been like?
A: It’s been really great. My goal is to help a million people get organized so this very common situation does not happen to them and their families.
As any life insurance agent will tell you facing the inevitability of our own demise is a pretty tricky topic for most people. But as Jonathan says, it’s unavoidable and because of that I encourage everyone to really think about this subject and pick up Jonathan’s book. You’ll be making things easier on your loved ones and you’ll be at peace knowing that you have a good plan in place.
And if you offer your employees life insurance, be sure to let them know about it—and then appoint a beneficiary. More than half of employer-paid life policies do NOT have a named beneficiary. If you have any questions or need any help with this, just call on my team of experts!
My Life & Wishes