A few weeks ago I sat down with my parents to have a fairly uncomfortable conversation: what happens if they die? Even though I tend to think of my parents are superheroes; when is probably a better adverb.

A few months ago my father and I had lunch and we started to talk through the normal course of things fathers discuss with sons:

do I make enough money? (yes)

am I seeing someone? (no)

Do I call and listen to my mother enough? (always room for improvement)

The conversation started to turn to even more adult things like insurance, wills and the like. While I now know the difference between term and whole life insurance I realized: I had no real understanding of how much parents organize their health, finances and/or final wishes and they have no understanding of how I organize mine.

Should (when?) something terrible happens to any of us the other party would be left in the lurch at the worst possible moment.

If you are reading this you likely know that I’m a planner. I live my life by the Jakes Baker quote: prior preparation prevents poor performance. I spent much of my workday thinking about creating redundancy for myself and my clients.

Not unnecessary repetition but instead planning fail-safes and/or safety nets to guard against things not going according to plan.

Almighty Google gives us this definition:

redundancy /rəˈdəndənsē/


the inclusion of extra components which are not strictly necessary to functioning, in case of failure in other components.

Business planning, for the most part, is one thing to plan for but IMO, for the most part, is solved;  With corporate hierarchies, flow charts, Slack and thousands of SaaS tools there is an unlimited number of ways professionals can keep their colleagues working in their absence.

But how do we plan redundancy for our personal lives that are by nature mostly stuck in our head?

How do we answer the question:

how do I run my life and work and what information would one need to continue or wind down my efforts.

We sat down and went through four key areas of life:, health, finances and/or final wishes and went through guiding questions for each


    • Family Member 1
      • What conditions /diseases / medical issues do you have?
      • What medications and doses do you take and why?
      • What serious allergies or sensitivities do you have?
    • Family Member 2
      • What conditions /diseases / medical issues do you have?
      • What medications and doses do you take and why?
      • What serious allergies or sensitivities do you have?

Finances + Accounts:

    • What does your personal balance sheet look like?
      • Where is your money held, what debts do you hold and what assets do you own?
    • Bills
      • What bills are paid automatically and where are they paid from?
        • Mortgage/Rent, Car, Loans, Utilities, Credit Cards
      • What bills are paid manually and where are they paid from?
    • What financial institutions do you have accounts with?
      • What are the names of professionals (banker, accountant, wealth manager etc) at these institutions that you work with?
    •  Do you have a passbook or system for managing accounts like email, calendar, social accounts?

Final wishes:

    • What are your wishes with respect to a Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) order?
    • Do you have a last will and testament? Where is it located?
    • Do you have a long term care policy?
    • What other final wishes do you have regarding a funeral and distribution of your possessions?

I’ll admit part of the discussion, especially the last section was dark. But after it ended instead of feeling sad or despondent I felt like a weight was lifted off my shoulder. That should something happen to my family I know we did our best to prepare appropriately.

I hope you’ll take some time to sit with your loved ones and discuss these issues if you haven’t already. If you found this valuable please email me and share with a friend.