Celebrities model bras and panties in magazine ads and men admit to talk show hosts whether they are boxer or brief kinds of guys. But humans will always have apprehensions about something that may become revealed after our passing. Whether it is a foolish investment or a hidden credit card bill, most of us can anticipate embarrassment about something our successors will learn only when going through our things.
Especially in the digital age where emails and browser caches endure forever, we need to be careful about messages not intended for broadcast. I actually had the accident where I was lying on the sidewalk unable to move. In my mid-60s, I fell down a cement stairway that I was trying to run up two steps at a time. I broke my hip. I was taken by ambulance to Presbyterian Hospital (which by-the-way was the wrong one for my insurance). When the hospital attendant who was preparing me for x-ray began tugging at my underwear, I demanded that she cut them off. No $2 breathable cotton briefs were worth the pain of removing them over a shattered acetabulum. It amused me even at that scary time to realize that the very same solution would have occurred in the 1950s: emergency first responders would not have taken the time to inspect or preserve an injured child’s underwear. They would have cut it off. This is a good time of year to work on “legal hygiene,” the cleansing of our records with an eye to the reality that some day, in fact any day, someone else will have to make sense of our systems and carry on our personal business matters.
What is a realistic method of getting our affairs in order? In undertaking legal hygiene it is important to understand what the people you are trusting to “carry on” are going to want and need. Passwords, account numbers, significant dates, medical history . . . my grandmother’s vision of a corpse on cold concrete was far from today’s actuality of how we slip from life. Most of the time, there is a period of hospitalization. Often there is life-saving recuperation and the resumption of daily activities. If there are shameful facts that become discovered while we are laid up, we may be quite alive to experience remorse and regret when we try to resume our lives. Forget the fear of turning over in your grave, you may be face to face with unearthed material that has become known to the family. Sometimes the confusion of dementia saves us the embarrassment, but no one would willingly choose such a diversion from the truth. So coming clean in our relationships is an important aspect of legal hygiene. Just as disease prevention is aided by good housekeeping and personal cleanliness, legal hygiene establishes protocols that organize our many forms of property, keeping title documentation clear and assets insured. Work with an experienced Guardianship Lawyer such as the Guardianship Lawyer Albuquerque NM locals turn to for more insight.
The old adage of not keeping all of one’s eggs in the same basket worked for our ancestors to keep the fox from feasting on the daily gathering of eggs. A similar strategy can today assure that any given asset is not liable to pay the debts associated with another. By creating proper packaging for assets, we may prevent catastrophic loss associated with lawsuits, and, perhaps more importantly, pass along a well-organized and welcome legacy. Fear of shame was certainly part of my childhood. It worked to steer me through developmental hazards to becoming a responsible adult. But fear of shame is not a kind motivator for folks in their elder years. I have seen the painful faces of octogenarians suffering memory impairment, They know that there is something they have forgotten and they struggle with their pride. One of those faces in my own memory is Grandma Minnie, so proud and erect, whispering to me “Don’t tell your Mother.” I have absolutely no recollection what was the secret that I was supposed to keep.
But I never felt stronger bonds of affection for her than in that moment when she enrolled me to be her protector. For centuries, lawyers have driven their marketing messages by triggering fears of “what if”— What if I get sued? What if I go broke? What if someone I trust betrays me? Motivating ourselves by fear can certainly backfire. We can develop such a bright picture of what we want to avoid that our brains are actually attracted to these situations because they seem familiar. Better motivations for legal hygiene are similar to those we have learned to promote good health, exercise, healthy food and satisfying work. Building healthy relationships with our property interests as well as good communications with those who support our choices can be enjoyable. It may be a pleasure to get our affairs in order and keep up with the systems that work for us.
Thanks to guest authors at McKeever Legal Advising LLC.