Series 40: For the Love of the Elephant in the Room | Episode 08
Elephant in the Room Part 8: Planning for Life after Death ft. Abby Schneiderman
As we wrap up our Elephant in the Room series, there will be no awkward topics left in our wake. And this week, we’re putting the nail in that coffin (so to speak) and we’re talking about–yes, you guessed it– Death. It’s really hard to think about how to plan for your death when you’re too busy living, not to mention that we don’t even want to really contemplate our demise, but alas, none of us will escape it. And we’ve all heard the horror stories of people who leave this earth with no will or last testament, families put under duress because they don’t know how to manage it all, or the provider of the family passes suddenly, and in an instant, there is no income, no insurance and perhaps unexpected expenses for hospital stays and/or funerals. As stark as it seems, it doesn’t have to be. Planning well for the life that you’ve built so that legacy is created for those who are left behind is something we all can bravely face. And to help us through it is someone who has taken this hard topic and turned it on its face so that it’s actually approachable and less scary to contemplate–we’ve got Abby Schneiderman, the founder of Everplans–to hold our hands through the process. Abby has the answers to the questions we need to take care of In Case You Get Hit By A Bus (also the title of her book). Her company Everplans focuses on providing resources to people as they think about what needs to be done to put the right things into place once we pass on. Some of it is just practical stuff we might not be thinking about—like a list of passwords so getting into accounts doesn’t take an act of congress, developing a way to keep track of medical forms, legal files, and so much more.
Hey, everybody, Jen Hatmaker here, your host of the For The Love podcast. Welcome to the show. We are wrapping up our series today for The Love of the Elephant in the Room. I’ve learned so much. I really did. I’ve learned so much from our guests in this particular series. If you’ve missed any of it, do yourself a favor and go back and listen. None of these are light and airy and breezy, but they’re important ones and we assembled a true cast of all stars to walk us through each and every one of them.
So today, we are tackling a topic that is genuinely familiar to all of us and if it isn’t yet, it will be. And that is death. It’s either the death of one of our loved ones or dear ones, or it is our own impending death. None of us are going to get out of this one alive, right? It’s an inevitability, but what we’ve noticed, it seems we know it’s coming and yet, death in so many ways, catches us unprepared. And in some ways, it just always will, because we’re never going to be ready to lose the people that we love. So, this sort of emotional component, this relational component, there is just a grief inside of that that’s always been true and it will always be true.
But there are some ways that we can be more prepared for what is inevitably coming in a way that will alleviate so much suffering, so much confusion, so much chaos. And then even possibly so much fighting amongst our loved ones when we’re gone and have not given them a clear plan with what to do. So, all these details that happen when someone dies, they will happen, they have to happen, they’re going to happen. So, whether we pay attention to them beforehand or not, they’re coming. And that is the worst possible time to have to think about what to do, right?
If you’re on this end of it, you’ve just lost someone and you’re in a whirlwind, not only trying to let people know what happened and making arrangements and funeral stuff. But then immediately, having to figure out what to do with your loved ones’ prized possessions and their home and their wishes, if they did that in advance. How to manage any of their debt, their policies, their insurance, their accounts. The incredible overwhelm of being plunged into that, if it is chaotic, if it is unmanaged and unplanned for is its own trauma.
So today, we’re going to talk specifically about that. How to create a plan before you leave this world for the ones who are going to be picking up the pieces. Admittedly, this is not a super fun subject or one that we’d love to talk about or even really think about, but honestly, it’s so necessary. And it does help take out a bit of the sting of death for those that we leave behind.
So, if you’ve been in my world for the last essentially year and a half, you’ve watched me do this work. When I got divorced and my financial advisor started saying, “Do you have a will? Do you have medical directives? Do you have a power of attorney? Have you named your beneficiaries? What about, do you have a life insurance policy?” I was just like blink, blink, blink, so overwhelmed and the answer was, “No, no, no, no, no, no.” And they began to help me understand the value in doing this work in advance.
Because our guest today, one of the most important things she said is, “If you die without one, it’s not that there isn’t a plan. Oh, there’s a plan, but it’s going to be expensive, it’s going to involve difficult court cases, and lawyers and locked phones and accounts. And it will create so much chaos for your loved ones.” So, there is a default plan, but how much better for us to decide in advance that this is where my money is going to go. These are all the things you would need to know in the event of my passing. So, I’ve done all this. I’ve learned all of this. And even today, having walked through this with a lot of my helpers, I took notes because she said a handful of things, I’m like, “Haven’t done that.” I need to put that in the bucket and make sure it’s handled.
So, for this particular conversation, we are getting into the nitty-gritty of how to prepare for your future after you have left this world. Okay? I told you this was an Elephant in the Room series. And so, to help us walk us through this is someone who has made it her business to help us prepare for the unexpected, even though ultimately it is all expected, okay? And so we have the very wonderful Abby Schneiderman here with us today. Let me tell you a little bit about Abby before I bring her on.
She’s the founder of Everplans, an organization that offers tools and resources to plan for the future of yourself and your loved ones. She also breaks it down in her new book, which is called, In Case You Get Hit By A Bus: How To Organize Your Life Now For When You’re Not Around Later. And it is crystal clear, like a step-by-step way, that takes all the anxiety out of legacy planning. And as she puts it, it’s actually liberating and deeply satisfying knowing that you’re leaving the best parting gift imaginable. She is such a good guide for taking charge of the confusing and sometimes complicated process of preparing for death and dying, and I am so glad she’s here today.
Listen, if you feel overwhelmed by this, if you’re just like, “Ugh, I don’t want to listen because I have so much to do here. I’m so in the weeds on this. I’m 100 steps behind.” I kept telling Abby in this conversation, this is a mountain. And so, when you’re down at the base of the mountain, and you’ve not even taken one step up, it’s a haul, right? Just to look up the mountain and go, “How am I even going to do this?” Here’s how I feel after just having this discussion with her. This is doable. You’re not alone, first of all. There’s no shame in this, okay? It’s not too late. You know why? You’re alive and you’re listening to this podcast, so it isn’t too late.
So, you don’t just have to swim around in this quagmire of confusion here. This is doable and it’s more than doable, it’s important. It is important that we do this, so that we don’t leave our kids, our parents, our siblings, our communities in absolute turmoil, because we failed to put any of our wills and wishes on paper. We can do this. I’m so pleased to share my conversation with the smart and the wonderful, Abby Schneiderman.
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XO – Team Jen