Packing for our Get It Together blog journey

Jul 5, 2016 | By: Mark W. Vermillion

We have been looking forward to beginning our approximately 2 year “blog journey” through Melanie Cullen’s outstanding book/tool Get It Together. Our destination? Peace of mind and providing our loved ones with the tremendous gift of organizing our most important information for them.

Similar to packing, making reservations, and asking a neighbor to take care of the pets while you’re away, before we embark on this journey we need to do some planning and preparation. Melanie has provided some very helpful instructions to make the most of our journey. Let me introduce you to her instructions and why taking time to prepare will be worth your while. Also, make sure to read Melanie’s welcome letter in our last blog post if you haven’t already.

For some good reminders why this endeavor is important, let’s look at the page just after the table of contents. It’s titled “Your Get It Together Companion.” I know you’ll appreciate Melanie’s story of how the challenges after her mother’s unexpected death inspired her to get her own affairs in order –and ultimately equipped her to help the rest of us do the same. Quoting Melanie, here are the benefits we hope you will gain from utilizing her book: “I share with you this process:

  • to reduce the eventual, inevitable burden on your loved ones
  • to help you experience the freedom of facing your mortality, addressing unfinished business, and valuing your days, and
  • to convey my hope that you will enjoy the satisfaction of organizing your affairs.” 

Next, let’s read through the “About This Book” chapter on pages 4-6. Melanie wisely points out that certain groups likely will find this process especially helpful: seniors, people facing a serious illness, family members and other caretakers, parents, young adults, and people planning travel or deployment. Those of you working with a parent will also benefit from that section. 

After reading the “How it Works” section, follow Melanie’s suggestion by taking some time to thumb through the guide and then the planner sections. Like a travel book, “Completing Your Planner” on pages 10-17 provides an overview of the journey ahead. The “What the Planner Contains” section gives a nice thumbnail of all the topics we will visit over the course of our blog journey. Couples should take Melanie’s advice and make separate planners. 

Read through the “Choosing Paper or Digital Files” section to help you choose the one you’re most comfortable with. For those of you leaning toward using an electronic version, now is a good time to read Appendix A on pages 238-240. After successfully downloading the files, note the helpful suggestions about how to properly track and process the forms as you complete them. 

If you need to complete your planner quickly, the “If Time is Short” section has a helpful list of sections to tackle first.

Our author describes these seven steps that are designed to minimize hassle and stress for you during this journey:

Step 1: Get Started—except for Appendix B, which we’ll cover in a later blog post, we are working on completing this step right now.

Step 2: Prepare Planner Pages—Now that you know what method you will use for completing your planner(s), here are some helpful suggestions for each of the methods. Note the tips for designating and preserving the final (or most current) version of each form.

Step 3:Get a Planner Binder—Many of you have heard me suggest using the fillable eforms rather than filling out the pages in the binder. I still think that’s a great solution for many, but Melanie points out some excellent reasons to maintain paper copies and a physical binder. If you do decide to use eforms, you may still want a physical binder to organize the items that can’t be stored electronically (keys, credit cards, etc.). You should also look carefully at the disadvantages of online/cloud based storage services and consider saving forms on a portable storage drive kept in a secure place instead. Don’t forget to let your loved ones know where and how to access your electronic forms!

Step 4: Store Your Planner Securely—Melanie separates the less confidential forms (#1-16) from the more confidential forms (#17-28). Since our loved ones will need access to our less confidential forms in the early day of “stepping into our shoes”, a good path for many of us will be to maintain paper copies of these forms. And, maintaining easily accessible eform versions of the more confidential forms will be a good complement for many of us.

Step 5: Complete Each Section—Due to our author’s experience with this important process, we will be breaking our journey up into the same “legs” that she recommends. We’ll start with simple topics, then visit essential topics. We’ll move on to complex topics, and complete our journey with final topics.

Step 6: Talk to Loved Ones—You wouldn’t write your will and then throw it into the fire. Similarly, your loved ones will not benefit from all the work you are about to put into gathering, documenting, and organizing your key information and records if you don’t let them know about how to access your binder and records.

Step 7: Update Your Planner—Given the comprehensive nature of this journey/project, it will be very important to come back to various topics as things change. My wife and I completed a different organizer a few years ago and several items have changed since then. So, rest assured that I will be joining you on this journey and providing updated information for my loved ones using Get It Together

Now that you’ve packed, are you ready to depart on our journey?

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