I remember it like yesterday. Mom was sick. I took her to the hospital again, thinking she just needed more fluids like the last couple of times. Instead, they admitted her.
Just a few days before that, she’d been working in her real estate business, going out to eat with friends, and golfing. But that trip to the hospital turned out to be the last time she was really able to do much of anything on her own.
Several months later, she died. Of course I knew she had cancer, but I didn’t want to believe it would be fatal. Even though the type she had almost always is. I just couldn’t face that it was really going to happen.
She, on the other hand, was always a very practical, caring, and organized person.
She knew someone was going to have to take care of everything when she got too sick to do it herself, and after she was gone.
So she made sure every single thing she could think of could be handled by someone who’d never done it before without any input from her.
I was able to come in and pay her bills, deal with the doctor appointments, insurance companies, and banks, close her business, file her taxes, get into her email, and so on. Both while she was sick and after she died.
It hurts so much to think about all that even now, many years later. I miss my mom. But I can’t imagine how hard it would have been to try to deal with all that during such a painful time and to also have no idea what needed to be done.
She made everything she could easier for us by writing it all down, and I’m grateful for that. It was a huge, loving act of service during a horrible time.
I thought about writing this more impersonally, and not sharing my mom’s story and how much what she did helped. I’m still kind of conflicted about doing so, but I’ve written this 5 times without it and it just does not show enough how much what she did matters. So sharing is the best way I know to do that. I hope she doesn’t mind.
Why create a legacy binder now? Because life rarely goes as planned, even though we assume it will.
The fact is, we are ALL going to die someday. Every single one of us. Death is part of life, and ignoring it doesn’t stop it from happening.
But it’s not just because of that. It’s because any one of us might get sick for a few weeks. Or be injured and unable to manage things. That happens a lot.
Or we might need to evacuate, or lose our home to a disaster.
When those things happen, someone still needs to manage the household and keep things running.
So think about this: What would happen within your family in case of emergency right now?
If something should happen and you get terribly sick, or God forbid, die, would others be able to pick up where you left off? Would someone else be able to run the household, take care of the kids, and pay the bills? Maybe even a complete stranger?
If you don’t feel confident that someone who has never done all the things you do each day could step in and take over with no trouble, now is the time to fix that.
It may feel a little morbid, but it is not morbid to care about your loved ones. It’s an act of service, and peace of mind.
So that’s where the legacy binder comes in.
My mom made hers with a simple white binder that she got from the office supply store. Because she did it after she got diagnosed, her legacy binder was also a death planning workbook of sorts.
She filled it with neatly typed instructions, passwords, account numbers, due dates, and locations of important documents like her will. And also included the contact information for friends and for people who could help in her business. She was a shining example of how to organize important documents at home. Literally the only thing she forget to include was her voicemail password for her business phone.
I’ve followed her example by doing the same kind of thing digitally years ago, updating my document over time. My husband and son know where to go to get the password to the encrypted file that has all the info they will need. And I know where to get my husband’s info.
Those are both two simple ways to create a family legacy binder, and I highly recommend doing so in SOME way. But it can be hard to think of everything under the sun. (It’s easier if you make notes every time you do anything related to your household, kids, or finances over time, as you are doing it.)
There’s a third option too that I’m an affiliate for: It’s Chelsea’s legacy binder.
Her In Case of Emergency Binder is a digital family legacy binder that walks you through what your family should know.
It’s a printable pdf with over 90 pages. That means you can type right in it on your computer. I really like that, because it’s super easy to keep up-to-date. You can print out the parts that have changed, and keep a digital copy stored offsite as well. My favorite part is that it contains space for the emotional things too — like your son’s favorite lullaby — in addition to facts.
Right now, Chelsea’s legacy binder is 20% off. But even when it’s not, I think it’s worth it to know you don’t have to wrack your brain trying to remember everything that matters.
In short, Chelsea’s In Case of Emergency Binder can save you time, money, and stress. It has a place for everything you need to make tough times just a little easier for your family.
So whether you use this one or come up with your own like my mom did, get the information written down. Then make sure your family knows where to find it.