Simplify the What-Ifs

by | Productivity


Have you ever considered what would happen if you weren't around to handle things? It's not a topic we often dwell on. Still, it's crucial to consider it to ensure that your loved ones and professional circle aren't left scrambling. RaderCo's very own Judith Guertin steps in with a brilliant solution – “Beyond the Estate Plan Guide: Important Details Your Family Needs When You Aren't Here to Tell Them.” She recorded a complimentary podcast, episode 80, on Crafting an Ethical Will. Pair these invaluable resources with your own electronic document that I'll describe, and you'll be ready to face the unexpected what-ifs head-on.

I took this concept to heart a few years ago. I crafted my own “Instructions for Marcey and RaderCo if Incapacitated or Stuck on an Exotic Vacation.” I shared this information with key individuals in my life – my husband, brother, and best friend/trusted second-in-command at RaderCo. I believe that preparation is power, and by sharing these non-legal instructions, I'm ensuring that everyone knows exactly what needs to be done, even if I'm not there to guide them. 


About 15 years ago, I was in a mountain bike accident and suffered a Grade III concussion. I wasn't allowed to look at a computer screen for three weeks. The day after, I picked up my toothbrush and didn't know what to use it for. Unfortunately, my team was stuck because they didn't know how to move forward, and my husband couldn't tell them where anything was.

I met a woman who had lost her son. Because he lived in another city, she didn't know who to contact, that he belonged to a gym and several meet-ups. Many people weren't aware he had passed away until after his memorial because there was no phone or email tree. Theft was an issue at his address because he had many things auto-shipped to him, and she didn't know what was coming next. It was not what she wanted to worry about while she was grieving.

My friend owns a business and was on vacation when the pandemic hit. He wasn't able to come back for almost seven months. Because he had to rely on an internet cafe for a few weeks before he could buy a laptop, and most internet cafes had very limited hours and availability, he had trouble taking care of things at home (and had his Dollar Shave Club order stolen from his front porch).


Here's a glimpse of what I've included in my personal instructions to give you some ideas for your own:

  1. Long-term Care and Insurance: Let them know your insurance provider for long-term care and related details.
  2. Essential Document Location: Ensure they know where crucial documents or a safe are stored in your house.
  3. Digital Access: Share information about your password manager and who holds administrator access to manage online accounts.
  4. RaderCo Agreements: Access RaderCo client agreements, payment details, and refund procedures.
  5. Subscription Accounts: Make a list of paid subscriptions to cancel to prevent unnecessary charges.
  6. Phone Tree Contacts: Establish a list of individuals who can notify others. 
  7. Financial Accounts: Share details about your banking, credit cards, and investments.
  8. Website Management: Outline steps to create a temporary landing page on your websites and manage your online presence.
  9. Social Media Notification: Plan for a professional social media update and eventual deactivation.
  10. Email Accounts: Set up autoresponders for your email accounts and specify handling after a certain period.
  11. Client Information: Ensure access to your Client Relationship Management System and key client contacts.
  12. Team Information: Share details about your team members and their roles.
  13. Business Closure: Provide instructions about your business insurance, PO Box closure, and more.
  14. Contact Information: Share your personal and business contact numbers.

While predicting every scenario is impossible, this comprehensive list helps ease the burden for those left behind. It ensures a smooth transition, prevents unnecessary expenses, and maintains your professional reputation even after you can no longer manage things directly.

But what about extending this approach to 1-2 people beyond your spouse or partner? Think about who you trust implicitly and who possesses the right mix of practicality and emotional resilience. Share a condensed version of your instructions with them, tailored to their involvement in your life. Remember, it's not just about the details – it's about providing your loved ones with the tools to navigate the unexpected confidently.

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“Your Weekender Snapshot and Tim Ferriss’s Five Bullet Friday are my favorite emails I receive.”

jim west

Principal and Managing Director, GFF Architects


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