It’s a Wonderful Life

Everybody watches It’s a Wonderful Life over the holidays, right?

George is going to throw himself off the bridge when Clarence intercedes to show George what life would have been like without him.  While I hope none of you are contemplating doing yourself in, allow me play Clarence for a moment.

What would happen in your family, business or job if suddenly you were not there?  This might not mean death, it could be a traumatic brain injury or a stroke that leaves you in a coma.   Obviously, there would be grief and emotional distress.   So my question is—have you done the things you can do to help ease that distress?   Based on my experience, here are some things I suggest:

  1. Make sure you have a will (or trust)—to ensure your assets are distributed the way you intend and that you pick the person in charge of that process;
  2. Make sure all your beneficiary designations are up to date and correct—because assets such as life insurance and retirement accounts are not controlled by your will;
  3. Make sure you have health care and financial powers of attorney—so there is someone who can legally step in and act for you without going to court;
  4. Organize all your account information in one secure place (bank, investments, bills, credit cards, etc.) and make sure the necessary people know where these are—so that whoever has to take over for you has all the information they need in one place and organized;
  5. Store online passwords in such a way that the person who steps in for you can get access to your online accounts—so much of what we do now is online, and if you do not have the user name and password, you can forget about getting access to those accounts.

While these tips are important for everyone, they are particularly important for business owners, because in the event of an emergency, it is critical the business keep running.

Do these things and maybe I will earn my wings!