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Getting Paperwork in Order Before Your Own Death

When we sit down with New York families to talk about our beautiful cemetery and end-of-life options for their loved one, the conversations often include stories about what made that person so special. We hear about what they did for a living, what their personality was like, their passions, accomplishments, and the relationships that mattered most. We also hear stories like these:

Darlene’s Story

My parents, Darlene and Bill, were married for 57 years. They had a very traditional relationship. My mom took care of the home and my dad owned his own business and managed our family’s money. When my dad died, he took all of the knowledge of their finances and paperwork with him, leaving my mom feeling lost and overwhelmed. Since she died such a short time later, my brother and I now have no idea what bills need to be paid, when they are due, or where to find all of their important paperwork. It’s not a good situation at all and is going to take us months to figure out.

Larry’s Story

I am still in shock that Larry is dead. We celebrated our 36th anniversary last month. If there’s one thing I’d say about Larry, it’s that he was always prepared for any situation. This includes his own death. He even made a detailed plan about what to do if he had a medical emergency. He had all of our paperwork organized and in one place and I know exactly what I need to do from here on out. Larry’s organization is a gift that I will appreciate for the rest of my life.

At The Woodlawn Cemetery, our staff understands that some families are completely caught off guard by just how much needs to done after losing a close friend or family member. This is especially true when it comes to compiling necessary paperwork. We’ve heard about those who kept the details of their finances and important documents to themselves – only to die leaving their loved ones in the dark.

So what steps should you take to get your own affairs in order, or those of a loved one? Begin by collecting important papers and copies of legal documents. Then let a relative, friend, or lawyer know where your papers are in case of emergency.

The 10 documents below are a good starting point, though you’ll surely have other important information to add. For example, pet owners will want to include medical history and contact numbers for a veterinarian. Those who are active online will want to secure login and password information for their bank, investments, and shopping accounts.

Read through this list and remember you can reach out to us anytime with questions.

Find and record the location of:

  1. Birth and marriage certificate/license
  2. Veteran’s discharge papers
  3. Insurance policies
  4. Bank/credit card accounts
  5. Investment accounts
  6. Property deeds
  7. Vehicle titles
  8. Will
  9. Select an authorizing agent
  10. Contact information for your attorney, insurance broker, doctor

Getting these documents in order will save your loved ones time, energy, and the potential angst of having to track down information during a difficult time. You can remove even more stress by taking control of planning your arrangements. Do you prefer traditional burial and cremation? If you prefer burial, where would you like to be buried? Above ground in a private mausoleum or a community mausoleum? Or in-ground with a traditional headstone, a lawn-level marker, or perhaps a bench or plaque that loved ones can return to for generations?

As you can see, there are many preferences you can express to ensure that your last requests are carried out. A visit to Woodlawn is recommended to learn firsthand about your options and to see the facilities and niches available for memorialization. Our Family Service Associates are happy to meet with you in person or talk by phone anytime. We’re here for you – always.

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