This is a book that hardly anybody wants to talk about. That alone makes it important. We don’t like talking about death or “having our affairs in order,” and we really don’t like delving into financial and personal business matters that involve the likes of the IRS.
When Someone Dies by Scott Taylor Smith really does live up to its subtitle, “The Practical Guide to the Logistics of Death.”
My parents’ advanced age and failing health caused me to inherit a new responsibility, understanding their “affairs” so I could take of that stuff when necessary. Their procrastination in doing these things reminded me of my age and caused me to want to make this stuff as easy as possible for my family. So, a few years ago, I dove in. I typed out how to pay the bills and access accounts. Then I went over it with each family member. Just months ago, we did our Healthcare Directive, Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare, and Durable Power of Attorney for Finances. We used Legal Zoom and found it very satisfactory and saved hundreds of dollars in attorney’s fees. It cost around a $150.00 for each of us to do all three documents.
After reading, When Someone Dies, I found even more things I could dl to help out my family. Did you know that you will need to purchase several copies of the death certificate through the funeral home because you will need it for several transactions? Did you know that social security checks need to be stopped immediately or you will need to repay the money? Did you know that creditors can only collect from the estate and if those funds are exhausted, they have no legal recourse?
The author is an attorney who was neither knowledgeable nor prepared for many of the things he had to deal with after his mother’s recent death. The book is incredibly well organized with outlines, summaries and a logical progression, so that it is easy to skim and focus only on issues pertinent to your situation.
If you have elderly parents or if you need to get your act together, I highly recommend it. Actually, doing this stuff and leaving practical instructions behind is itself a legacy of love and kindness.