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Around the beginning of the year, my other half and I were talking about how we need to update our will, review at our life insurance policies, and some other things.
You know, all that fantastically fun adult stuff that’s quite important but no one ever wants to do. We realized that we probably needed to aggregate our other life info as well, in the event something should happen to us.
Well that’s morbid
Yep. The more we talked about this super fun topic, the more I realized I needed to put together some sort of In Case of Emergency document. If we both died suddenly in a car crash, our parents or siblings would have no idea where to start.
Questions our parents/siblings would start asking: Do they have life insurance? Who do we call about said life insurance? Where are their wills? Who is Little Lyon Cub’s doctor? Who’s going to take care of Little Lyon Cub? Who do they want to take care of her? What property do they own? Who manages it? Where is their money? What is their financial situation? Who do we talk to in the military?
Our family knows enough right now just because we have good relationships with them and we all talk about stuff. H
Know what’s worse than losing someone you love, particularly if it’s unexpected? Having to figure out what the heck to do next with everything they left behind, on top of dealing with the loss.
What if only one of us goes?
If Chris left us tomorrow, I’d be devastated of course, but I’d know how to carry on.
I know how to navigate, or at least who to talk to and what questions to ask, for all the military-related stuff (only because I was on active duty myself, really though). I know accounts/logins/passwords, etc. for our banking, bills, insurance, investments, property management, how to get in touch with our CPA…blah blah blah.
The more I thought about it, I realized it goes way beyond that stuff. I asked him if he knew who Little Lyon Cub’s pediatrician or dentist is. He realized he didn’t, and then felt bad about it.
I told him I did not ask that question to make him feel bad at all. How would he know? I take her all her appointments while he’s at work. But it dawned on me that if he went, I’d be devastated, but I could figure everything out. Or honestly, keep marching on with everything “normally” (ha, normally).
If I went, he’d have some serious detective work to do before being able to resume “normal life”. That’s of course on top of getting over losing the love of his life…
He knows what money we have where, and what real estate investments we own and where, and all that. I don’t want to paint the picture that my husband has no idea what’s actually going on in our lives. That’s not the case at all.
You can be a team and still not know all the things
In fact, isn’t that the point of being a team? To have someone else to share all the things with so you don’t have to know all. of. them. …?
We are definitely a team and make all our decisions together. My point is, he’s not sure who/where Little Lyon Cub’s pediatrician is because I handle that. He knows I’ve got it, and that I like her doctor. If I need him to come to an appointment or we need to make some kind of decision together, then I’ll ask him about it and we’ll talk it through.
He knows what properties we own, but he’s never personally interacted with the property management. I do that. I handle all that kind of day-to-day nitty-gritty stuff.
We certainly both don’t need to and he has a way-more-than-40-hours-a-week job he goes to every day to bankroll our lives and defend our freedom.
Then he comes home and is a wonderful husband and dada and so much more. He’s pretty darn busy and makes it look easy to boot. I’m pretty darn lucky.
My full-time job is raising Little Lyon Cub, currently growing Tiny Lyon Cub (if we end up with a bunch of kids this naming convention may need an overhaul), and being the Chief Home Officer (and hopefully entertaining while educating y’all a little bit, of course).
The Chief Home Officer
CHO: handling all the other sh*t, since forever.
From cleaning to meals to finances to getting the roof replaced when an insane windstorm rolls through. Making sure the bedsheets get changed more than once in a blue moon, that we’re saving for the kids’ education, that we’ll be able to retire. Managing doctors and dentist appointments, checking in with property managers, did we get those rent checks? Did our HOA fee on our house go up this year? Oh, we’re moving to the other side of the country this year, I better get on some preschool waiting lists out there, and find a place to live, and someone to rent our house here…
The list goes on and on and on.
Even if you and your partner split the CHO duties evenly, you both still probably don’t know everything about what the other one handles. That would be very redundant and a waste of time and energy!
Do I really need an ICE binder?
All of that, to say yes, you really need an ICE binder. In some form or fashion.
It doesn’t matter if you’re single, married or somewhere in between. Have kids or don’t, have a huge financial nest egg or a mountain of debt. No one else knows all the things rattling around in your brain.
Or- how about this: There is one other person who does know all the important life things rattling around in your brain, and something happens to you and not them at the same time.
That other person is still around to get all your affairs in order after your tragedy. Are they going to be in any kind of emotional or mental state to be able to recall everything they need to know at that moment right off the top of their heads?
If you’re that person left to deal with it all, wouldn’t it be really nice to have a document you can just look at and have it tell you what to do instead of having to adult your butt off during quite possibly one of the saddest times of your life?
Again with all the morbidity… I know. But unfortunately, it’s true.
Set it and forget it… ish
Luckily, this is one of those things that once you do the initial upfront work, all you have to do is a little maintenance as things change or need to be updated.
I’d recommend an annual review of your ICE binder and all the associated info/documents, etc. A review will take much less time and most likely be a shorter, less morbid conversation 🙂
Let’s not forget the incredible peace of mind you’ll have once this is all done and wrapped up in a nice, little, hopefully never
We’re working on getting all our stuff together in the event of our untimely demise. We’ve also started talking to our parents about it too.
There’s another super fun conversation… “Hey mom, dad, obviously we hope not any time soon, but one day, you’re gonna go… Where’s all your stuff? Who do we call? How do we deal with it all?”
Not the ideal Thanksgiving dinner conversation topic, for sure. But again I ask: you just lost one or both of your parents. Are you or anyone else in your family going to have the mental and emotional stamina required to detective your way through their lives, not even knowing where to start?
On top of all that, if your or their affairs aren’t in order, the government will want to get involved. That only gets expensive. Don’t end up paying a bunch of legal fees or taxes or who knows what else may come up when it all could easily have been avoided, or at least reduced.
Ok fine, you win. Do I have to create it from scratch?
The silver lining to this less than desirable topic is that while you can absolutely make your own ICE binder however you’d like, you can also get one already done for you and just fill in the details.
Chelsea, at Smart Money
What do you think? Am I crazy, or right? You won’t hurt my feelings if you think I’m crazy, I promise. Do you already have a legacy binder of some kind? Are you like me, and know you need one but have been putting it off because it seems like such a daunting task to put together?
Leave your comments below, or send me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org). I’d love to hear from you!