Things To Do Before You Die

Recently a friend told me she was working on her ‘bucket list’ – the things she wanted to do before she died. “You mean like make a will, right?” I asked her. Turns out, no, her eye was set on things like sleeping under the stars and visiting Jim Morrison’s grave. To each her own.

As a lawyer I regularly advise people on the benefits of making a will, a health-care power of attorney and a declaration of a desire for a natural death (aka a ‘living will’), and these things ought to be on everyone’s legal bucket list. But there are other things that, while not necessarily ‘legal’ in nature, ought to make that list as well, as they will make wrapping up your affairs easier for those who survive you:

1.  Make a list of the names, addresses and phone numbers of the following people, keep the list with your important papers, and update it as needed:

•  Anyone you name in your will or your health care power of attorney;

•  People you would like to be notified of your death – friends, long lost cousins, the minister from your old church, etc.;

• People who help you, such as your accountant, your attorney, your children’s doctor, your cleaning service, your pet’s veterinarian, the person who manages your rental properties.

2.  Make a list of any accounts that will pay out on your death, such as IRAs, 401(k)s, insurance policies. Put contact information next to each item. Keep this with your important papers.

3.  Make a list of expenses you pay by electronic funds transfer (auto-debit), and contact information for each one. So many of us pay our fixed-amount bills this way, such as mortgage payments, church pledges, insurance premiums. Keep this information with your important papers.

4.  Make a list of the passwords and information for online accounts and/or for your computer. Keep this with your important papers, as well. (On a side note, you should keep papers such as these in a locked, fireproof and theft-proof location, and tell someone close to you where that location is.)

5.  Sleep under the stars. Visit Jim Morrison’s grave. Skydive. Read the collected works of whomever. Drive cross country. Do whatever it is that fills your bucket.