Everything listed here I personally use, love, or has come highly recommended by a few people I trust. A few links offer a commission (most don’t) if you buy something, which covers hosting the website and sending the newsletter. But please, do your own research and don’t buy stuff you don’t need.
Legal & Estate Planning
Many people choose to, and should, use an attorney. However, if you can’t or just won’t, almost everyone agrees that something is better than nothing.
Nolo Quicken WillMaker Plus: Nolo has been around for a long time in this space and so has this product which offers all the ‘basic’ documents. They also offer an Estate Planning Bundle with e-books to help with the process.
Nolo Online Living Trust: Not everyone needs to, but a lot of folks want, and can really benefit from, setting up a Trust. They also have an e-book called Make Your Own Living Trust to explain what they are and how it works.
MamaBear Legal has online forms focusing on parents offer and helpful forms for when kids become young adults and move away (important!).
LegalZoom and RocketLawyer are two of the biggest companies and offer packages or individual forms, like a Digital Power of Attorney document.
Also, websites like LegalShield or Avvo offer referrals if you’re stuck.
Live in Washington State? Email me for some referrals.
Knowing what someone wants, or sharing what ‘quality of life means’ to you is priceless and have been some of the most meaningful conversations of my life.
Cake is a free end-of-life resource (you may remember that Cake acquired GYST.com) and offers state-specific health and legal forms online. Many folks also like Five Wishes and the detailed form is only $5.
Talk About (talking about) It: Death Over Dinner offers a free guide and invitation advice. The Conversation Project has tons of free resources. The Art of Dying Well: A Practical Guide to a Good End of Life by Katy Butler helps us learn and prepare.
Digital Accounts & Passwords
Don’t lose important things and save yourself (and eventually others) dozens of hours trying to get online access.
I’ve used LastPass (the free version) for years to manage digital accounts, a few tech-geek friends prefer Dashlane. Either one (or others) allow you to save, store, and share your details.
Money & Personal Finance
Money can buy you time = feeling of security: This year perhaps you should put some of that stocking stuffer money into a savings account for a rainy day or special trip? (photo by Ruth Fremson/The New York Times)
An Emergency Fund helps you feel more secure in a daily-way if something happens. I use Mint.com (free) to help me track my spending and budget. Other people love You Need a Budget (not free), you can get apps like Acorns (I’ve used), or, for for budgeting, these books helped me:
Bad With Money: The Imperfect Art of Getting Your Financial Sh*t Togetherby Gaby Dunn.
Your Money or Your Life: 9 Steps to Transforming Your Relationship with Money and Achieving Financial Independence by Vicki Robin and Joe Dominguez.
The Index Card: Why Personal Finance Doesn’t Have to Be Complicated. by Helaine Olen and Harrold Pollack.
FREE: Update your beneficiaries! You can do it online (your bank, 401k, etc.) in just about 5 minutes. You have no idea the horror stories I’ve heard.
Yes, I know Insurance is hard to buy and you hope you won’t need. However, it is super helpful for many people, and if/when you ever do need it, you’re really going to appreciate having it.
If you can’t get life (or disability) insurance through your work (ask if you can ‘take it wth you’ if you do) you can shop and buy online.
Bestow offers term life insurance online, doesn’t require a medical exam, and the application process is easy (I just bought a second policy from them a few weeks ago and it only took about 5 minutes). You can also compare prices on sites like Policy Genius (life, disability and other types of policies).
Dying, Grief & Loss
The Art of Dying Well: A Practical Guide to a Good End of Life by Katy Butler is just gorgeous, full of grace, love, truth and wildly-helpful information. I am grateful to have this book for now and the years to come.
Modern Loss: Candid Conversation About Grief. Beginners Welcome by Rebecca Soffer and Gabrielle Birkner made me smile-sob, ugly-cry and laugh, usually all at the same time. Incredible stories and stellar advice.
It’s OK That You’re Not OK: Meeting Grief and Loss in a Culture That Doesn’t Understand by Megan Devine is the book I wish I had to help me understand my grief and realize I wasn’t crazy. I’ve given this book to dozens of friends.
I won’t pretend that having a checklist or a productivity app is going to make it hurt any less or make your pile of to-dos any smaller. However, getting a little more organized before the shit hits the fan is amazing, but keeping it together after life goes sideways, just even being able to find things you need, can be critical.
I have a daily planner like this popular daily Planner or more heavy-duty ‘Pro’ Planner by Panda. I’ve gone through a dozen of these journals for note-taking. These books have helped me Get Things Done and write my first checklist. Many people LOVE using productivity apps and Evernote is often at the top of the list, I also like Wunderlist.
While the phrase ‘peace of mind’ is far from my favorite, after a particularly devastating moment when I dropped my laptop (on the way to the airport) and nearly everything was corrupted – I back up my files religiously with this external hard drive, but any kind is better than not at all. Hoping to have learned that lesson only once, I also keep my final documents and important files in a pocket folder and (finally got, no kidding) a fire-proof safe.
Got any good ideas or tips? Reach out!