Getting your ducks in a row – or column – or at least slightly organized

By “Ducks”, I refer to all of the health care and insurance papers, business matters, bank accounts, the mélange of passwords scribbled in stealthy language, annuities, life insurance, etc. and so forth. 

I often ponder attending to this job. I gather papers, create a checklist, jot pertinent notes, and then let it all fall by the wayside.

Sometimes Lynn agrees, “Let’s get this done!” and at other times he simply wonders why. But it seems that right now we are on the same page or in the same duck pond. 

I know that if anything happens to me, he can handle it and vice versa, however, since we do most things together, it is important that our kids know what the heck our assets and wishes are.

We began by adding Beneficiaries to life insurance and annuities. We could complete most of this online, so that flowed with ease. Then a different one needed a PIN instead of a password so I must wait for that to arrive.

Some of our banking matters could be handled online, but others required in-person visits including having all three of our children here at the same time.

Although this seems wise, in reality, when kids have jobs and live in other cities, it is challenging to get everyone in one place at one time on a business day. 

Fortunately we live in a small community and are known by our banking professionals and so some of the situation was remedied. Then came the extra name on our account. 

We had opened this particular account many years ago with Lynn’s Dad, Tommy, and so his name was on the account. 

I had asked to have his name removed as he is deceased and at that time the name disappeared from our checks. 

Everything seemed fine until I tried to cash a large check at another branch where my face wasn’t recognized. 

The teller asked, “Who else is on this account?” I named Lynn and she asked who else and I dug deep and finally came up with “Tommy”. Problem solved. Well, not really.

Recently we were told that to have my father-in-law’s name deleted, we needed a death certificate. After ravaging the house, Lynn found one and I dropped it by the bank. 

Shortly thereafter I received a phone call stating that the date of birth did not match the date on the certificate. She then read out the date recorded. It is TW’s birthday. 

He has never been called Tommy, in fact he is rarely called Thomas. To further complicate matters the social security number listed was Tommy’s, not TW’s. Fortunate again, the manager is working to solve this mystery.

Additional paperwork lies ahead with Powers of Attorney, Advanced Directives, a Will, and perhaps a trust. I have books on each topic and several potential forms we can complete. 

While wading through these I contacted legal experts who let me know that while not common, Advanced Directives may be overturned by a doctor. An example is stating “Do Not Resuscitate” and/or “No Heroic Measures”. 

Those seemed easy in the past but now, with COVID these choices have changed. If a breathing tube might save me and without which death is almost assured, having this over-ridden would be beneficial. 

Maybe the toughest job ahead is sorting out my other online accounts and passwords. Because I am Virginia but go by Gini (except when I am in trouble), my secret coding can be confusing. Since I have 20 or 30 online accounts, passwords reach an entirely different region of complex perplexity. 

You know how every account should have a different password and that these should be changed frequently? 

I am pretty good about attending to these tasks, but that only adds to the rubble of papers with scribbles, notes, and “secret codes” – so secret in fact that sometimes I cannot determine what I had in mind. Is it PC or pc, Personal Code or professional contingency? 1234 or 4321? Who knows?

In actuality, do any of us really know what we want when the situation is dire? I know that occasionally I feel doubtful, however, I do not want to leave impossibly hard decisions for Lynn or for our children.

Following Mom’s wishes might relieve their pain. I hope that I can alleviate some of the muddled paperwork and dealings of life by organizing these now to save them consternation later.