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The When I'm Gone Box: A Guide For Your Loved Ones

Updated: Nov 22, 2023

Every month add one thing to your When I’m Gone Box or if you have planned with me— to your estate planning binder such as letters to your children or loved ones, favorite pictures, family recipes, a family video, cherished family traditions, instructions about a task only you know how to do, or anything else you think would provide comfort to your loved ones after your passing.

What is the story behind a When I’m Gone Box?

Wendy Coulton, a funeral celebrant, championed the idea of a box with essential documents and wishes to ease the burden of your death on loved ones. She advocated for talking with family about death and preparing in advance to make it easier on your loved ones at your passing. Most of us will die unexpectedly and having a well thought out plan in place for your family is one of the greatest gifts of peace you can leave.

What Do I Put In A When I’m Gone Box?

The When I’m Gone Box should include at a minimum your estate planning documents. However, cherished items often come from the heart so letters to your children or loved ones, favorite pictures, family recipes, a family video, and the sharing of family traditions may be more valuable than any financial document.

First, the essentials:

  • Your completed Estate Planning Documents including your trust, will, health care directives, Kids Protection Plan, and your financial/health care powers of attorney.

  • Contact information for the trusted lawyer that prepared the documents so your family knows who to turn to during one of the most difficult times of their lives.

  • Your asset inventory which includes what assets have been funded into your trust (retitled or a beneficiary designation added).

  • Marriage, birth and divorce certificates.

  • Property records, including deeds to your homes, cars, boats, trailers and any other titles along with an Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) beneficiary deed for those registered with ADOT that need a place to pass after your death.

  • Financial account numbers, monthly bills, credit card or loan information, and where to find the usernames and passwords. A financial power of attorney is worthless if those you nominated have no clue what bills to pay for you.

  • How to access your business records and finances and instructions on important tasks that would need to be completed immediately after your passing if someone had to assume your business operations. Business subscription information or annual memberships required to maintain operations (state and city licenses, website, email, domain, etc).

  • Digital asset information such as your social media, email, telephone, laptop, gaming, Amazon (prime), airline miles and other similar account information and where to find the usernames and passwords. This is often forgotten and without this information your loved ones may be unable to manage these online accounts.

  • Location of your mailbox, safe deposit, or post office box keys.

  • Instructions for your funeral and the arrangements you want made.

  • Phone numbers and/or email addresses of family and friends you want notified of your death.

In addition to the necessary documents for handling your estate and affairs, you may wish to put in personal items:

  • Letters to loved ones or friends to read after your death.

  • Legacy videos sharing your life story. You likely already know how much I believe these are some of the most important items that can be passed down to your loved ones. These are the intangible things that are most often lost when we lose a loved one. Not only do your loved ones get to experience your voice and hear about your legacy, but they also get to experience your video image after you are gone which is priceless.

  • Family recipes.

  • Favorite photos or family videos.

  • Information about your own life and legacy which could be in the form of a diary or book summarizing some of your key achievements. You can even include your bucket list whether you have completed all the items on your list or not!

  • Your favorite poem.

  • A special place that you liked to visit or favorite vacations.

  • Things your loved ones may not know about you including hobbies, things you did when you were young before you got married or had children, or your firsts (job, love, etc).

  • Your favorite memories. Sharing happy moments and memories of your life may give you an opportunity to comfort your loved ones after your death.

  • Directions on how to complete tasks that you have been the only one to complete.

Contact our office at 623-282-4441 if you want help creating your When I’m Gone Box with a full estate plan including a legacy video with your life story.

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