Today marks 60 days until my 30th birthday. It's been a somber week for me. I've been thinking a lot about one of my peers who passed away and was laid to rest yesterday. He was in the band with me in high school and later we ended up working at the same place. He was 27.
As much as I'm thinking of him and his family, I'm also thinking of myself a lot. Not in some vain self-centered way but rather introspective. We all know in the back of our minds that things like this happen everyday to people of every age. Somehow though we're always blind-sided when it hits close to home.
It's been a very long time since I've had to deal with death directly. My maternal grandfather passed away when I was very young so I wasn't really cognizant of the swirl of activity that went into taking care of his final arrangements. 20+ years later I'm finding out that a lot of the assets that my grandfather left behind ended up being squandered due to ignorance. I don't mean ignorance to say stupid or foolish, but rather literally not knowing how to handle it. For my friend it's a much different matter. I can't say that I knew his financial situation but I can't imagine him being flush with cash. He's young, worked two part time jobs and had no dependents. At the company we both work for all employees are allowed benefits including basic life insurance with the option for supplemental coverage. His second job was a delivery driver for a major pizza chain. Due to the nature of that job I would assume he had coverage there as well. I haven't heard anything about the family needing to take donations so I'm hoping the proceeds were enough to cover his funeral costs. If that changes I'll post a link here.
I don't handle funerals well (I'd skip my own if I could) so I chose not to attend but I heard that his mother spoke of her older son with great poise and dignity. I wouldn't want to put myself in her shoes but I must. In the worst case scenario, being a parent is a double-edged sword. You're faced with the possibility that either you could outlive your children and not be in a position to give them dignified arrangements or something untimely could happen to you and you have nothing to leave behind to help care for them. Even worse you could end up leaving behind debt they have to pay, which is what I'm afraid will happen when my maternal grandmother passes. I'm learning that, as much as I hate to think about things like this, it's best to be as prepared as possible.
Here's a quick list of some of the key goals I want to take care of between now and the end of the year in case the inevitable happens ahead of schedule:
- Draft a will/living will. If you have any children and/or assets a will is crucial. It seeks to make sure that all of your wishes are met and that your family is taken care of should something happen to you. Without this the courts can intervene. Your possessions and your kids can end up with people you didn't wish to leave them to. A living will takes the pressure off your loved ones if you're in a prolonged incapacitated situation with no hope of recovery. I would never want my son to have to make a decision like that. This should be reviewed and updated as major life events occur.
- Compile a list of all assets. This will include all of my banking and brokerage account numbers, my vehicle identification number, Internet passwords and appraised value of any collectibles I have (namely my baseball cards). I tend to tuck money away in lots of different places so when the time comes I want to make it all easy to locate. This should be reviewed and updated every six months to a year.
- Open a 529 account. Even when people have the best intentions things often go awry when a large sum of cash is involved. I wouldn't want to trust my son's care giver a large sum of money in the hope they the would earmark it for his education. Opening a 529 college savings account will take the guesswork out of that. There will be a later post on my process for choosing one.
- Get a fireproof/waterproof box. All of the documents mentioned above and more will be placed in the box for safe keeping. That way, should something happen to the place that I live, all information is still obtainable.
Today's video is in memory of Brandon Hill, my band brother and co-worker. I'm in there somewhere. I'm not 100% sure if he is (this would put him in 8th grade) but we've played the hell out of this song on the field many times. It was always one of our favorites. I also understand that he had another side hustle helping to advertise for the discount blog Live Life Half Price. Click through the link to check it out.
Rest in Power, lil' bro.