Recently I had the pleasure of breakfast with William O. Lytle, author of The Essential Organizer: An Ongoing Record of your Estate and Personal Information. Bill has created a valuable tool that helps families do exactly what it advertises -- a much-needed exercise.
Bill is pleasant, thoughtful, and friendly, and in discussing his work he tells stories of families he has interviewed in preparation for this publication. He talks about how difficult these end-of-life planning conversations can be, and had contacted me after a recent blog post on strategies to guide families through these waters before dementia strikes or other events make the conversation impossible.
Coincidentally, in the past year both of my parents, each approaching 80 years old but heretofore in very good health, had health challenges that required my sisters and me to work together and be sure everyone's documents were in order. Ironically, my dad started American Home Companions in Florida in 1992, and my sister Betsy owns it with her husband now. My other sister Natalie is a Registered Nurse and certified Geriatric Care Manager in Kansas City, and owns American Companion Care. I say this not as a commercial message, but to point out that no one is exempt from this process. In fact, one night we all sat around Betsy's kitchen table and said, "Let's commit to each other that we won't make the mistakes we see so many of our client families make -- let's take the time to review the documents and be sure everything is in order."
With a little bit of effort and help from our parents, we were able to complete all the work. Fortunately, both our parents now have healthy prognoses so no documents were needed -- this time! But the time will come when we need them, and it is a relief to know that we've done the legwork to smooth the effort. If you haven't done this in your family (regardless of your age), then Bill's book is a good resource in your work.