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Life Planning. The Straight Dope

Life Planning. The Straight Dope

What’s your spouse’s e-mail password?

How do you get in touch with your partner’s boss on a Saturday night? Can you reach his brother who is traveling in Japan?

Could you pay the mortgage next week if your wife slipped into a coma today?

Do you have quick access to phone numbers of friends, family, insurance agents, pet sitters, and so forth?

Some of the questions seem inconsequential, until you’re standing in an emergency room in the midst of a full-blown crisis and you need to call people and make split-second decisions.

It’s where Chanel Reynolds, the founder of the site www.getyourshittogether.org (GYST), found herself when her husband was hit by a van while he was bicycling.

He later died.

She was left with a mountain of decisions, she didn’t have key phone numbers handy, she wasn’t sure about the amount of life insurance due to her, and she and her husband hadn’t signed a will.

Based on her experience, she developed GYST, a site that offers something that other financial and life planning sites don’t.

It cuts through all the noise and tells you exactly how to prepare your life for an emergency.

The copy raw and hasn’t been massaged by lawyers or marketing gurus into impenetrable language. It gives you the information—much of it unpleasant—straight up.

The site outlines some of the difficult conversations you need to have and the walks you through key decisions you need to make, from sharing passwords and bank account details, to designating guardians for children and signing medical directives.

Checklists, templates, and worksheets make the process clear and simple.  Reynolds also talks about some of the day-to-day habits—saving money, building an emergency fund, and dealing with debt, for example—that make life better for surviving family members.

In addition, Reynolds helps you understand that a life-or-death crisis—car accident, heart attack, you name it--can happen in an instant. The misery of these situations can be slightly lessened if you have your paperwork in order and keep key information on hand. 

She also shares some insight on the emotional aspects of loss, stressing the importance of living life in a way that you finish unfinished business, nurture your relationships, and operate in such a way that you won’t have regrets and remorse later.

Valuing trees

Trees are pretty, trees are desirable, and they’re often considered assets to a property and community.

But how much of an asset are they?

Now you can attach actual figures to the trees you’re considering planting or those that already are on your property.

In addition, you can see just how a given tree can aid the environment by, for example, reducing energy consumption (just consider shade trees that cut your air conditioning demand) and CO2 emissions.

Here’s a calculator, https://www.arborday.org/calculator/index.cfm to help you determine some of the environmental benefits associated with planting trees.


Memory screening day

Misplacing your keys or forgetting just why you walked into a room can be scary experiences. But they don’t necessarily mean that you have dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. After all, some memory problems can stem from other illnesses or vitamin deficiencies.

A memory screening by the Alzheimer’s Foundation could quell your fears or it could suggest that you’d benefit from seeing a medical professional for further evaluation.

The association has designated November 19,, 2013 as memory screening day and has set up locations around the country where you can go for a memory assessment.

Visit http://www.afascreenings.org/index.php?Country=United%20States to find a screening site near you.