Tuesday, November 6, 2012

What Can We Larn From The Death Of A Co-worker

Nuggets For The Noggin

By Jim “Gymbeaux” Brown, November   1, 2012

Disclaimer:  The following has absolutely no bearing on anything the co-worker did or did not do but rather her death caused me to think about my own death and things that follow.

I would imagine that very few people are ever really prepared for death and even when you think you are you probably aren’t.  Having just lost a very valuable co-worker and friend, I got to thinking about what someone might find in my personal office, on my desk, in my car, etc.  A better question might be COULD a person find what they need if I were not around to show them where to look?  How organized have I been?  How organized do I need to become?


Everyone brings personal property into the office.  There is really no way to know for certain what property in your office belonged to you or to the company unless you “just know”.  It would be nice to be able to give your personal property to your next of kin.  So ideally you would mark what is yours or at least have an inventory that someone could find.

Someone is going to go through you desk.  Is there anything that you would prefer people not to know about you?  If so, don’t leave it in your desk.

There is one thing you SHOULD have in your desk and that is a Truck List.  The idea came from Lee Shelton, “Creating Teamwork”.  He said he ALWAYS had a sealed enveloped in his top desk drawer that would be the first thing someone would find in his desk if he were to be run over by a truck the night before.  In the envelope he listed all the most valuable things someone going through his desk would want to know like location of important documents, keys, passwords for company files, etc.  There was one more thing on his list that I thought was most critical; who would Lee recommend to replace him due to his sudden and unexpected departure.

A list of people YOU would like to be notified.  As this loss was really unexpected, it was discovered that no such list existed.  There were obvious notifications but then there were notifications that were not made simply because no one thought of the individuals and/or companies.

Password to the company telephone.  Without it, waiting messages will go unanswered, they may be business; they may be personal, who knows for sure?

Password to the company computer.  This is most critical.  If you maintain personal files on the computer they should be readily identifiable so they can be copied and given to your next of kin.  If the files are simply interspersed with official company files, this would be a virtually impossible task to complete.

If your work is unique and complex, you should have long ago established typed procedures on how to complete the tasks necessary to keep the company running smoothly.  Assume someone with little to no experience has to suddenly sit at your desk and perform a task or tasks necessary to get checks out, bills paid, reports created, etc.  Are there instructions that someone could follow to get the necessary work done?

Keep your filing up-to-date and do not let it pile up.  Make certain that any piles of paper are easily identifiable as to work that needs to be completed and papers that simply need to be filed.


Not much different that at the office except for:

Wills:  More than one person should know where your will is filed.  If you do not have one, get one regardless of your age.

Keys:  Where do you keep the keys that people will need.

Passwords, User Names and Accounts:  You have more sites and locations that require user names and passwords than you can imagine.  Start immediately maintaining a list of sites/accounts you access, the web address, user name and password for each one.

List of people you would like your family to notify.  Don’t leave it up to someone to guess who you would like to know about your passing; make a list.

Get organized.  Keep your home desk neat and orderly.  Everything in its place and a place for everything.  Remember someone is going to go through everything so make it easy for them.

Important Notifications.  Retirement providers, Social Security Administration, banks, retirement funds, credit unions, credit card companies, etc.  Make a list with account numbers, contact telephone numbers, etc.

Insurance Policies:  Where are they, who are they, make a list of everyone that is current and applicable and where you have them filed.

Military Records:  This is very critical for eligible veterans to access their veterans death benefits, specifically the DD-214.  Make sure you have the last one you received and make certain someone knows where you have it filed.

Special Requests:  If you have any special requests like insuring someone receives something of value or important to you and the person you wish to receive it, make a list and make certain someone knows where you maintain these special requests.

Verbal Agreements:  If you have any verbal agreements or special arrangements that you have made such a personal loan from a friend, make sure it is documented and what needs to be done to satisfy the agreement/arrangement.  Don’t leave things hanging or to chance.

Emails:  You probably have hundreds of email addresses on your computer(s).  Why not create an email notification in your own words to be sent to everyone in your email address book.  The notice should end with asking the recipient to remove your name and address from their address book and provide them with an alternate name and email address they can use if appropriate.  Make sure you leave instructions on how to send the emails out, user name, password and any restrictions on the number of emails you can send out at one time.  If you have multiple sites from which you maintain emails, make sure you identify those sites, example, Gmail, Plaxo, Outlook, Outlook Express, Yahoo, company address book, etc.

Facebook/Twitter/LinkedIn, et al.:  You may want to consider doing the same thing for such sites as you did for your emails.  Prepare a notification that could be posted on these sites to let your Internet friends know.

Final Arrangements; your personal preferences:  Closed casket. Open casket.  Cremation.  One day versus two days for wake and funeral.  One location for all funeral/memorial activities versus multiple locations.  Flowers versus donations to a charity.  If donations are desired, identify which charity(s) to donate to.

For the sake of your next of kin, be prepared sooner rather than later because chances are, later will never come.

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