Last week Facebook thought I was dead. I’m not joking. I went to my personal Facebook page and there was a little blue flower at the top of my page and the message “Remembering Cody Jones: We hope people who love Cody will find comfort in the things others share to remember and celebrate his life. Learn more about memorialized accounts and the legacy contact setting on Facebook.”
The look on my face made Chelsea ask, “What’s wrong?” I said, “Well, Facebook thinks I’m dead!” She assured me I was very much alive. For a moment, I wondered if my account had been hacked and someone was playing a joke on me. Instead, I chalked it up to Facebook; I’m on this social media platform many times a day, I admit. I enjoy sharing good news on Facebook and love our blog. You also seem to, based on your responses to me in person and online.
So, the phone rang and I got busy—completely forgot about my untimely demise on Facebook. The next day brought better news. The little blue flower reappeared on a Facebook message saying “A mistake has been fixed: Recently, you may have incorrectly seen a message about…We’re very sorry…and have fixed it.” I was back amongst friends and family again. One of my colleagues told me that Facebook thought she’d died, too! At least I wasn’t alone!
It reminded me that today, we not only make plans for who will handle our final arrangements, but now we have to plan for who takes over our social media footprint (Facebook, Twitter, e-mail accounts, online bill paying) when we’re gone. Not only do we need to have trusted family or friends oversee our services, we also need them for our electronic lives. I have ideas and tips to help you plan now.
The Value of Planning Ahead
As we fast approach 2017, we are facing an entirely different set of challenges in dying, as in living, with the amount of information we keep up with every day. How many of us have a little password book for all our online work? How many of us have passcode entry for our smartphones so that only we can access our phone and e-mail contacts? How many of us keep all that information in our heads, rather than written down? What happens if we are in an accident and our next of kin starts trying to figure out what to do and who to call, to take over our responsibilities while we recover?
No, we never expect to be in a hospital somewhere as the result of something unplanned. No, we don’t expect to lose our smartphone, which (admit it) many of us call “our electronic brains.” The good news is: we can avoid numerous crises by the simple act of planning ahead.
So, it’s not enough anymore to just make plans for what happens to your life and legacy at the end of your Earthly journey. It’s not enough to have a will, although if you only knew the number of people in the Baby Boomer group who do not already have wills, you’d be shocked.
How many of you have a funeral plan in place? Do you know whether you want burial or cremation? Have you seen how the price of cemetery plots has skyrocketed in the past three years? Where would you like donations to be made in your memory? Who do you want to preside at your funeral? Who will write your tribute when you are gone? What music do you want your loved ones to hear, or do you prefer to leave all these decisions up to someone else when you are gone?
Many people prefer not to think about death at all, maybe not until they reach the age of Medicare, but not all of us have that much time on Earth. The number of families we have served in the past month alone found approximately 20% over the age of 65. That’s a major surprise and that’s a substantial number of people who were overwhelmed with making a chunk of decisions all in the same day or two. What about blended families? Who’s in charge of final arrangements for the wife? For the husband? That can wind up being a very unpleasant series of decisions and a lifelong source of discontent for your survivors. Don’t leave this world with your hopes and wishes left to chance. The best decision is to make a plan, and then have peace of mind.
Now, take a deep breath. Exhale. Repeat. Here are a few questions to think about this week:
How Much Does Your Spouse or Family Members Know About Your Financial Obligations?
We see this all the time in our business. Sometimes a husband or wife has all their decisions made in advance and they’re all in the safety deposit box at the bank. But, where’s the key to the box? If your spouse passes away, is your name on the bank account as a joint account holder or will assets be frozen until the will is probated? How will you pay household expenses when income suddenly stops and funds are suspended?
Your Next of Kin and Computer Passwords
It’s good to be proactive and it’s not at all grim to think about telling one person you trust in the world, or maybe even two, about “where everything is” if something should happen that you are in the hospital or out of your office for a 4-week period or more.
For Your E-Mail Contacts
If you use a browser like Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox on your computer, you’re in luck as most of the passwords are (or can be) saved but what if you have MS Windows 10? You must have a password to log into your computer. Where is THAT password? It’s important to have that one fact at least, before you can begin. Who would be the one person you’d want performing that task for you?
For Your Personal Finances and Online Automatic Bill Pay
For those of you who work for yourself, who only get paid when you do the work and send the invoices and keep track of the invoices, if you have online automatic bill pay, then autodraws are going to keep occurring whether there’s someone at your desk, in place to do your work. Who would you know to call among the clients to let them know their deadline project will not be in on time?
You will have to navigate the site a little bit but when you log in (if your password is not already saved on your browser as you need that first), then follow the blue box border to the down arrow symbol, and open up the drop-down menu and select by clicking on SETTINGS, then you will see the Legacy Contact choice.
This is only if you want your account, or your business’s account, or your group to remain active for a month or more after you pass away. Some people use Facebook to provide updates to friends and extended family who do not live close by, and who want to know when and where visitations are scheduled and which funeral home is handling the service arrangements and what charities were chosen as preferred for gifts.
The concept of whether to keep a Facebook account active after you pass away should be a topic of discussion when you consider all the other things that are in your power to choose today. Say you like a particularly Bar-B-Que restaurant and click “Like” on that page. It can be very unnerving for a photo to pop up and say “(name of deceased) and 23 others like XYZ BBQ. So, you might decide simply to deactivate the account immediately. The same holds true for Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and any other online accounts you hold.
Your Final Wishes
If you have appointed an executor because you don’t have any immediate family left, can they find the contact information of your next of kin? Do you have a list of people you want alerted after you’ve died? Did you know that you can lock in costs and pricing today with our Advanced Planning Program? Who will be the one to go through your e-mails, online accounts, and your social media accounts to respond to all the messages, communications and bills?
Do NOT be overwhelmed, as many find themselves to be these days. That is why we are here for you; it’s the process of planning ahead that brings you comfort and peace of mind. We have information and forms custom made for your needs to help you in these decisions. Stop by our new funeral center and we’ll be happy to give them to you, or e-mail me at email@example.com and I’ll get them in the mail to you right away.
It’s why our business is called Callaway-Jones Life & Legacy. We care about you this very minute, when you don’t think you even need us, and we’re here to answer any questions for you without attempting to sell you anything. Answers are always free and, same as we have been for all these years, our family is here for you. Plan ahead today, and gain peace of mind!
Cody D. Jones ‘02
Owner & Community Member