29 June 2008

Project: Get Organized

On Friday afternoon GLH and I made a resolution.

This resolution came as my sister-in-law and I sat in nearly 90 degree heat surrounded by between 70-80 old cans of paint and slowly, at times painfully, opened them one by one and stirred cat litter into them. The employees at the paint store recommended it as the fastest and cheapest way of drying out cans of paint so they can be safely thrown away and not leak toxic chemicals into the water supply.

The occasional lighter-weight can of paint that rattled was cause for celebration. It meant the paint had already completely dried and we could just toss it into the enormous garbage skid we had rented for the week. The skid that was full by the end of the day and will need to be replaced with an empty one so the process of cleaning out the house can continue. Dealing with forty years of accumulation followed by a year of illness is not a quick process.

At one stage GLH's brother stated "If I had known I would one day be doing this, I would have loosened the lids on all of these cans years ago." He actually used other words, but I try to avoid obscenities in my postings.

The paint cans were just the tip of the iceberg. There was so much we did, and so much more that needs to be done. We accomplished all we could while we were there, but we couldn't stay longer. The responsibility of finishing will fall upon the shoulders of GLH's brother and his wife. We can help with some of the paperwork issues, but the back-breaking work will need to be done by them. For that we are sorry.

So what is the resolution?

GLH and I hereby vow that we will get organized and stay organized in order to reduce the burden on the shoulders of each other or our family should we unexpectedly die or become incapacitated.

Our home is actually somewhat organized. I've always been a "purger" and tend to go through our possessions about twice a year, ridding us of unneeded or unwanted items. A skill learned from my parents and through years of moving frequently, usually without professional movers. And fortunately, GLH did not inherit the Pack Rat Gene. He doesn't feel the need to hold onto things that are not actively used. He is also very good at keeping all of our paperwork organized and has an electronic filing system to limit the stacks of paperwork that can accumulate. But there is always room for improvement.

And we need to look carefully at estate planning, wills, living trusts and so on. This is especially true as we hope to soon become parents and we need to plan so that our child/ren will be cared for and financially secure at least through college graduation. Compounded by the complication of living abroad, there is a lot work to be done.

It is always frightening to face the reality of mortality and so easy to put it off because we are still young and unlikely to die any time soon. But it is far better to work through the fear and denial than leave a difficult situation for our family to untangle, likely after paying substantial fees in probate court costs and excess "death taxes."

We will start this week and build a schedule into the process to keep it current.

It may be one of the most important things we ever do.

1 comment:

GL'sD said...

I suspect that the bug catcher death machine is still with you.