One of the perks of being an estate planning attorney is that you really get to know your clients. Sure, we can craft all the necessary legal documents to help them protect everyone they love and everything they own. We can even open their eyes to the importance of organizing stuff now versus later — even if it is a simple manual for every day, run-of-the-mill household stuff. But to do that, you have to build genuine relationships first.

One of those relationships we have had for many years is with a couple named John and Debbie.

During one of our first meetings with them, the three of us talked back-and-forth about all sorts of things. Much of it was just random, friendly conversation. But it helped me really get to know them. They told me about the day John proposed: they had been at a drive-in movie theater watching a scary movie earlier in the evening, and after eating dinner, John confidently said something to the effect of, “I got the feeling as you clutched my arm over and over again during that scary movie that you need me around. And the truth is, I need you around, too. Wanna get married?” They would be inseparable ever after and raised a beautiful family with four kids and six grandkids. At the time of our meeting they lived in Denton, TX.They had moved from Nebraska to Denton to be closer to their children and grandchildren.

John and Debbie adored each other. And they also were a true team — even when it came to the household stuff. They split everything down the middle, relying on each other’s strengths and weaknesses to determine who would handle what. For example, John was more of a spender, so it made sense for Debbie to pay all the bills, balance the checkbook, and handle all the finances. Surprisingly, John enjoyed doing the dishes and folding laundry just as much as he loved working in the yard and fixing stuff.

Their plan always worked seamlessly. Still, they each worried about how little they knew about each other’s tasks. John never worried about certain things because Debbie always handled them; and vice versa. Debbie was clueless about other things for similar reasons. Naturally, a real concern for them was how one would carry on without the other.

Organizing now to avoid problems later

We used John and Debbie as examples in a previous blog post about the importance of having a Family Facts Sheet and a detailed binder with tabs, folders, etc. I remember them showing up at my office to show it off. That includes how they planned to address household stuff. It was impeccable, and many of the items we discussed and others that they came up with, are included in this workbook.

So, to take a page from John and Debbie, here is a detailed breakdown of what you could be thinking about now.

Contact List:

  • Pest control company
  • HVAC maintenance
  • Electrician
  • Plumber
  • Electric and gas companies
  • Water company
  • House cleaning services
  • Sprinkler system company
  • Car repair facility
  • Appliance repairman
  • Handyman
  • Veterinarian
  • Lawn and landscaping
  • Internet company

Detailed maintenance instructions:

HVAC — Who to call for service and repair (see above), where the HVAC systems are located, the size of the furnace filters, and a detailed schedule for how often to change them and how.

Car repair — Oil change and tire rotation schedule, annual inspection and registration, etc.

Home appliances (dishwasher, stove, oven, washer/dryer) — How to operate/turn on and off, including loading properly, and loading/timing instructions.

Gas — How to turn off a gas water heater and relight a gas water heater pilot light.

Electrical and gas — Location of electrical panel and gas turn-off valve, how to reset a tripped circuit breaker, location of candles, flashlights, and batteries. Location of smoke alarms and directions on how to change the batteries. How to maintain a CO2 alarm.

Pet care — Instructions can include everything from vet and groomer information to vaccination schedule, daily routine, preferred treats and food, and care products.

Security alarm system — Where the master power box is, alarm codes, and who to call.

It is only natural to focus more on traditional estate planning to ensure you protect everything you own and everyone you love while also preparing yourself for the legalities of death. Wills, trusts, powers of attorney, burial directives, and more achieve that. But when you are the spouse left behind, you do not always have all the answers during such a difficult time.

Call Leigh Hilton PLLC today!!

No one wants to think about dying. They certainly do not want to think about their spouse passing away. But it is better to discuss these things together ahead of time and be prepared for when that day comes. Dealing with uncertainty is the last thing you want to worry about when trying to live regular lives without your spouse.

Having a competent estate planner in your corner will help you and your family navigate these often overwhelming waters. That is our job, and we like to think we do it better than anyone else. Please call Leigh Hilton PLLC so that we can help ensure you and your family are taken care of in the best way possible.

Leigh Hilton PLLC wants to be your first call every time for any estate planning need. We look forward to serving you.

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Leigh Hilton P.L.L.C