Live for Today, Prepare for Tomorrow

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It's time to stop procrastinating and get your affairs in order. Let your loved ones know what to do if you are unable to speak for yourself.

Terri Schiavo has not died without a purpose. Despite the fact that she has been unable to feed herself or even swallow for the past fifteen years, she has made an impact on our lives. She has left an impression on our hearts. She has helped us realize how important it is to have the proper documentation in place so we can speak for ourselves. Because of the publicity, as Americans we are finally taking care of matters that we've procrastinated way too long.

Terri's battle may be over, but there is much more that needs to be done to assure that our rights are protected. We need legislation that works for us instead of against us when someone determines that we have nothing to contribute to the world.

In the meantime, there are steps you can take to protect yourself and your loved ones. Obtain an Advance Directive from your local hospital, or find it online through the U. S. Living Will Registry. There isn't a generic form that applies in all 50 states, but by following this link, you will find your state, and can print out the forms you need.

While this Advance Directive, or Living Will, will tell your family and medical professionals what you do or don't want them to do to sustain life, there is much more that you can do to alleviate the strain on your family when death occurs.

It's time to get your affairs in order.

1. Gather your documents

2. Update your will

3. Make sure your assets are titled correctly

4. Make sure beneficiaries are current

5. Have a financial power of attorney

6. Examine life insurance needs

7. Let others know what you'd want them to do

8. Provide contact information

9. Record your information

10. Talk to your loved ones.

If you think this sounds like an overwhelming project, you're absolutely right; especially if you're starting with a blank piece of paper. But Emerson Publications offers a wonderful resource with their 32-page book, "All They'll Need to Know." It is filled with forms that help remind you to include items that you may not think of if you're starting from scratch.

All They’ll Need to Know provides forms for vital statistics, professional and military records, funeral instructions, names of those to notify, as well as financial information regarding checking and savings accounts, location and contents of safe deposit box, certificates of deposit, stocks, bonds and mutual funds, savings plans, retirement programs, trust accounts, real estate, loans payable and receivable, insurance, and even information on your automobiles and credit cards. It may only be 32 pages, but it's packed with information.

It will be a relief to you once you know you've got these details in writing. It will be invaluable to your family when the time comes for them to make these arrangements. It will save money for your estate because your family won't be making irrational decisions while they're in shock. They will be acting in accordance with your wishes because you will have left them instructions for what you want them to do.

All They'll Need to Know is suitable for couples, so you only need one per household. Please visit the website, for more information.

Don't put this off another day. You just don't know what tomorrow might bring.

Contact author and speaker, Joyce Moseley Pierce, for more information.

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Joyce Moseley Pierce
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