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She might've called it Getyouracttogether.org, but she changed one word.
February 6, 2013 12:10 PM   Subscribe

Get Your Shit Together helps you do what it says on the tin. After her husband died in a 2009 bike accident, Chanel Reynolds created the site as a step-by-step toolkit to help keep track of important life documents and tasks. Four days after its launch, the New York Times got in on the action.

Also linking to and from the site:
What Documents Should I Shred and What Should I Keep? (Lifehacker)
Designing Your Death Dossier: The 25 Documents You Need Before You Die (Wall Street Journal)
Everplans (free site giving four step-by-step paths based on the ways people encounter death)
Planning A Good Death (BBC)
posted by Madamina (28 comments total) 241 users marked this as a favorite

 
Thanks for posting this. It is reminding me that my husband and I need to do this because, sadly, you never know.
posted by Kitteh at 12:26 PM on February 6, 2013


I bookmarked this the first time I heard about it and still haven't done it. I think I'm secretly hoping somebody comes up with LetMeGetYourShitTogether.com.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 12:26 PM on February 6, 2013 [30 favorites]


A friend of mine helped two of his sisters get their affairs in order after their husband died, and he impressed upon me how important it is not to do this to anyone you love. He said, "Get a three-ring binder and put a page in it for each account -- bank, brokerage, whatever -- you have. Even that will save your survivors so much stress."

My wife and I each handle some of the family financial affairs, and we have a filing cabinet where we keep everything organized Just In Case.
posted by wenestvedt at 12:28 PM on February 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


I think I'm secretly hoping somebody comes up with LetMeGetYourShitTogether.com.

An attorney will help with this: ours did our wills & HCDs, and offered to handle a trust if we wanted to go that way. Just going through that process helped a lot.
posted by wenestvedt at 12:29 PM on February 6, 2013


we have a filing cabinet where we keep everything organized Just In Case.

It's worth filling out the GYST list and scanning it to Dropbox because of the risk of household fires.
posted by DarlingBri at 12:37 PM on February 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


I used to work at an estate planning law firm, so I was marginally familiar with the Shit that needed to be gotten Together. But for so much of my life -- and my husband's life -- we've been floating by, moneywise: not so much living from paycheck to paycheck, but concentrating more on the day-to-day responsibilities.

Suddenly we both have actual jobs and an actual future to look forward to. And I do not understand life insurance, or any other kind of insurance, one bit. So having a checklist? Thank GOD.
posted by Madamina at 12:39 PM on February 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm going to show this to my mom who is trying to get her shit together right now because dad never got their shit together. hehehe... shit
posted by entropicamericana at 12:41 PM on February 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


Pay stubs and bank statements (keep for a year)

Just a note to anyone considering this list of things to keep and shred for actual use: this list is definitely YMMV and you need to be sure of the standards in your jurisdiction. In France, for example, your paystubs are to be kept indefinitely and say so right on the front: "A conserver sans limitation de durée."

(Related anecdote: a colleague's mother retired recently and had to prove her employment and income from some period in the 1970s, for which she had to provide the original pay stubs. Which were printed on thermal paper like old faxes. Which had long since lost the ink.)
posted by whatzit at 12:59 PM on February 6, 2013


I'm going to show this to my mom who is trying to get her shit together right now because dad never got their shit together.

Oh, so much this. My dad has a debilitating disease and I have been imploring him and my mom to get their affairs in order JUST IN CASE. I'm constantly met with "Oh, don't worry, we will, we will" for nearly two years now. It's driving me nuts. I know it's hard to make a parent understand these are important, but coming from a family who have been fiscally smart, I worry about these things as well as my own affairs.

Maybe if I send her this link, it will make them understand I mean well.
posted by Kitteh at 1:27 PM on February 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


Other things that will help your estate settling that aren't necessarily so obvious:

1. A family tree that includes addresses (or dates of death, if necessary). In NYS, probate law requires that anyone who would inherit from a deceased person if there wasn't a will must sign a waiver saying that they are okay with the will.

Most of the time this isn't really an issue, as it's usually a spouse or children and they are easy to track down. But once in a while you'll get the unmarried woman who has ELEVEN brothers and sisters, some of whom are deceased, some of whom had six kids of their own, some who got married and no one knows their married name, and no one knows anyone's addresses and it takes you literally ten months to get waivers from everyone (we *just* got the decree. I started tracking people down in April 2012)

2. If you're going to give a specific bequest to a person, put their address. If you're going to give it to an organization, see if they have specific language your will needs to include to make sure it goes where it's supposed to go.

3. Use full names in your will, not nicknames.

But please, please, please, get a will made, ESPECIALLY if you are not married. My horror story: we represented the estate of a guy who died quite suddenly, in his late 40's, without a will. His long-time girlfriend got nothing, but his parents (one of whom he hadn't spoken to in thirty years, and the other whom my boss and I both agreed was "the embodiment of selfishness") split all his assets.
posted by Lucinda at 2:20 PM on February 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


"It was that Depression-era stuff where you keep everything and hide other things."

Too true! I am going through this right now in emptying my FIL's home. One dresser drawer contained every bill, statement (in their envelopes with whatever advertising was included), pay stubs (he retired at 55) (he's 82) and bit of ephemera from 1992 through to the present - with his birth certificate stashed in among dental insurance forms that were never filled out. And $200 stashed between some compact discs in another drawer. And I can't find the deed to the house. I am printing out these articles and handing them to my parents on our next visit. Thank you for this useful post!
posted by peagood at 4:00 PM on February 6, 2013


One of the few nice things about being a lowly-payed freelancer for so many years, forever watching the mailbox for that check that was supposed to be here like a week ago, is that if I croak tomorrow my loved ones can basically just cremate me, donate my small mountain of books to charity, and that'll be that. I have nothing to fight over, nothing to organize. I don't even have life insurance to worry about. A month after I'm dead it'll be like I never existed. Awesome!

There's a certain amount of self-pity in there, but I am also sincere. When my girlfriend's parents died it was a huge, huge thing for her, not just in terms of grieving but in terms of insurance and wills and debts and family squabbles and resentments and... Oy, my ulcer is acting up, just thinking of it. At least I know I won't be leaving that kind of horror show behind for anybody.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 5:20 PM on February 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


Of course, just having a checklist doesn't make the task of writing a will any easier. But having a list of what needs to be done so you (or your family) know where you're up to and where all the pieces are takes a lot of the fuss out of this. Thanks for posting, I'm off to get my shit together now.
posted by harriet vane at 6:13 PM on February 6, 2013


I wonder if they'll get a section at the end of each page for other countries - even just a link pointing you to the right person to ask would be good, and probably more managable than legal advice for so many jurisdictions.
posted by harriet vane at 6:15 PM on February 6, 2013


This is such a great idea, even getting people thinking about it is helpful.

My husband died last year with no will, no life insurance, no bloody anything. It was an administrative nightmare. There I was, 30 years old, married for only 7 months, trying to sort out all this shit on my own. I posted all over my Facebook account begging my friends to think about these kinds of things.

Really glad to see this site getting attention.
posted by Youremyworld at 6:48 PM on February 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


Just a couple of anecdotes-
- A guy who used to live in the same apartment building as me died without a will, so the government rep had to come in and settle his estate. Yes, it was a nightmare, partly because they found a permit for a handgun, but they couldn't find the handgun itself.
- One of my relatives died very suddenly of a heart attack at age 48. He didn't have a will, so almost all of his retirement savings got chewed up by lawyers. When we were organising his memorial service, three of us spent an entire evening writing his biography. We knew he worked for an insurance company for a long time, but no one could remember which one.

So, yeah, get your shit together. It might sound vain, but if you tidy up your paperwork and write your own biography, it will save the people around you a lot of grief.
posted by Multicellular Exothermic at 7:29 PM on February 6, 2013


One dresser drawer contained every bill, statement (in their envelopes with whatever advertising was included), pay stubs (he retired at 55) (he's 82) and bit of ephemera from 1992 through to the present - with his birth certificate stashed in among dental insurance forms that were never filled out. And $200 stashed between some compact discs in another drawer.

My grandmother hid cash in her house. In fake cans in the pantry, under the oilcloth tablecloth, in books, inside a roll of toilet paper at the back of the bathroom cupboard. My mom and her siblings went through grandma's place as carefully as they could but my mom always felt sure they'd missed some amount of money between a few hundred and a few thousand dollars.
posted by not that girl at 8:02 PM on February 6, 2013


When my husband's mother died suddenly, she left him with an absolute nightmare of property, shares, investments and 30 years of stored crap in her home to sort through. Six years later and he's finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. Learning from this, I approached my parents, who, while having less financial entanglements to their name, still have a home with 45 years worth of junk, paperwork, car parts etc, that my Dad refuses to sort through. It's not quite hoarder level but it wants to be. (They actually want to downsize their home and move somewhere smaller but can't handle the enormity of going though their possessions, my brothers and sisters have helped sort through stuff with their permission for a council garbage collection, only to have my dad then cart it all back inside.)

I explained to my Mum the absolute logistical nightmare my husband went through trying to cope with the estate from interstate no less, and begged my mum to please deal with this before she died and not put me in the same position. She completely blanked me, turned her head away and changed the topic. Charming. I think when the time comes, I'll just hire a bulldozer...
posted by Jubey at 9:00 PM on February 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


MCMikeNamara: I bookmarked this the first time I heard about it and still haven't done it. I think I'm secretly hoping somebody comes up with LetMeGetYourShitTogether.com.

I would so pay for that.

Also, for an IWillHuntThroughYourHugePilesOfPaperInOrderToFileYourTaxes service.
posted by IAmBroom at 9:01 PM on February 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


if I croak tomorrow my loved ones can basically just cremate me, donate my small mountain of books to charity, and that'll be that. I have nothing to fight over, nothing to organize. I don't even have life insurance to worry about. A month after I'm dead it'll be like I never existed. Awesome!

Death is incredibly stressful and people will fight over things like how to cremate you and what to do with the ashes and how to pay for it and who's responsibility that is. Also, without a will, your estate goes to probate and that is nothing at all like "a month later it'll be like I never existed!" It's awful for whomever isn't even empowered to be your executor because you've died intestate.

Please make a will, name an executor and lay out your wishes. Please understand that the coverage to cover your own funeral costs of $5 - 10K will be under $10 a month, often as little as $5, depending on your age and state of residence.
posted by DarlingBri at 12:42 AM on February 7, 2013 [5 favorites]


Death is incredibly stressful and people will fight over things like how to cremate you and what to do with the ashes and how to pay for it and who's responsibility that is.

The worst part is that after it's over and the stress has fizzled out, they'll realise there was no need to fight about any of that and feel stupid and ashamed. It's just that trying to figure out logistics at a time when all you want to do is curl up in a ball and cry is such a mind-bender that people go a bit weird. Anything you can do to relieve them of the logistics so they can get on with mourning you is a gift.
posted by harriet vane at 1:00 AM on February 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


While dealing with parents and all their hoarded crap is difficult, I can assure you that if you sort it out for yourself *now* it is not too bad. My husband and I have had wills etc. since we first got together (14 years ago), and updated as required (kid came along, moved to a new country etc.) and every few years discuss things like are we still cool with who we have to look after our son if we both die, what pension plans are kicking about etc. It's very low key, but the important thing is we know a) what happens to our kid if we both die b) who gets what if we die c) what happens to our bodies if we die and d) that all our material stuff doesn't matter once we are gone. Once all that is in place, the stress of thinking about it goes away.
posted by Megami at 1:05 AM on February 7, 2013


For what it's worth, everyone, you can pick up basic life insurance for really cheap. I'm 35 and get $50k of coverage for $5/mo through my insurance company, which is pennies for having some basic cash to cover end of life expenses. When I was working I had another big chunk of coverage through my work's AD&D plan which was nominal for some pretty high coverage; that's a big perk of working a salaried gig, by the way, and not to be ignored. If you're the major wage earner it's quite the smart thing to do to figure out how much money your family would need if your income contributions for the next 30 years were suddenly removed.

Anyway my point being that most younger people don't think about it, but when you're young it costs practically nothing, and certainly helps to provide for those nasty what-if situations.
posted by EricGjerde at 5:13 AM on February 7, 2013


I have nothing to fight over, nothing to organize. I don't even have life insurance to worry about. A month after I'm dead it'll be like I never existed. Awesome!

Always look on the bright side of life!
posted by codswallop at 7:54 AM on February 7, 2013


Clever execution. (pun intended?)
posted by neave at 8:15 AM on February 7, 2013


The moment I heard about this, I signed up for the emails and downloaded the checklist. I'm 45 and I went through this with my dad and I still don't have my shit together.
posted by immlass at 8:43 AM on February 7, 2013


Thanks for this. Most useful MeFi post I've seen in a long while.
posted by e40 at 10:45 AM on February 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


If you're the major wage earner it's quite the smart thing to do to figure out how much money your family would need if your income contributions for the next 30 years were suddenly removed.

This sentiment really annoys me. I happen to be the main breadwinner in a traditional family, and I do have some life insurance, but I certainly don't expect my death to somehow set my wife and kids up for three decades. If I die they will have it a bit tougher, but no more so than the single parent families out there, and, in fact, considerably better off as they would have a mortgage free house plus some retirement savings. But why should I pay a sizable part of my disposable income now on the off chance I die so they never have to work again? It is a product of insurance sales hype.
posted by bystander at 4:20 AM on February 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


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