The story behind The Life Stash
If I'm honest, the idea for The Life Stash has been simmering in my head for quite some time - a longing to be more organised in my home, wanting to feel a little more prepared for life's little quirks, moments of feeling a little overwhelmed by piles of paperwork and documentation, and, beyond all of this, the nagging concern of how anybody would sort it all out if something happened to me. However, I think that I can pinpoint the real origins of The Life Stash to three things that happened relatively recently that really fired the flames of my resolve to find a solution....
Mum knows best
A few years ago my parents started mentioning ‘a list’ and the conversation went something like this….”if anything ever happens to us, there’s a list in the sideboard”. I never asked what was on the list – it was all a bit too difficult to talk about and I never really wanted to know – until recently when curiosity got the better of me and I asked to see it. My mum riffled in the sideboard and produced a piece of notepaper where she had started to detail some really useful information that will be invaluable when something happens to them (I say 'when' because it is, of course, inevitable). They made it very clear that this wasn't their will - no, that existed and was held separately. Rather this piece of paper held a further level of information - details about bank accounts and investments – information that only they know and will be lost forever in the event of their death unless they pass it on. Although it was difficult to look at this list (knowing that its purpose is to ease the complexities after their death), I marveled at my parent's thoughtfulness and forethought and resolved that, as a parent, I would undertake to ensure that my children were left with order and ease when I died. However, I was also struck by the slight ‘Heath Robinson’ approach that they had taken to solving this issue, and that got me thinking - surely there had to be a better way of recording this information and making it available to others....
A devastating loss...
A few years ago my husband lost his wonderful mother, Margaret. One of my overriding memories of the awful days that followed was of my dear father-in-law being traumatised by the fact that, even though they’d been married for 55 years, he didn’t know Margaret’s wishes after she had passed – cremation or burial – and that caused him unspeakable pain on top of the grieving that he was going through. Since then, he has often reflected that he still doesn’t have a clue where Margaret had kept a number of personal but important things like her address book which has meant that he’s since lost touch with some of our far-flung family.
Losing my mother-in-law really made me pause to reflect – what state would my affairs be in if something happened to me today? Would my husband have any clue as to who we paid our gas and electricity bills to, never mind if I would prefer to be buried or cremated? What if something happened to both of us……what mess would we be leaving for our children to sort through when they had just lost their parents? I shudder when I think of it - let’s just say that they would have quite a mess on their hands and probably an impossible puzzle to solve as they attempted to piece our life together in order to lay us - and our affairs - to rest.
As an epilogue, this morning Twitter has just recommended to my husband an account to follow - one Margaret Chalk. So, several years after her passing, Margaret's Twitter account still lives on. A moment of intense sadness for my husband this morning that could so easily have been avoided.
The edge of disaster....
Ok so not exactly a disaster but it felt like a serious near-miss at the time....a few months ago I realised, to my absolute horror, that I had forgotten to renew our home insurance policy. Yes, I had received an email from the insurance company warning me that our cover would soon be ending but, in the zillions of daily emails and with a head so cluttered with work and family matters, it completely passed me by and this very important matter slipped through my net. Luckily, no harm was done…..I happened across the paperwork randomly when trying to find something else and quickly sorted it out. However, it could have been so different and I literally sat and cried when I thought of what might have happened - an accidental fire could have left us not only homeless but penniless. I realised that I needed to get more organised.
I was also reminded of the terrible disaster of Hurricane Katrina that hit New Orleans in 2005. If the havoc wreaked to life and property was not enough, the further tragedy that unfolded was of survivors, who were left with literally nothing but the clothes in which they stood, unable to even prove their identity. No way to access funds via bank accounts, no details to claim insurances .... and so the misery became further compounded. Although I can't know what lies in my or my family's future, I want us to be as prepared as we possibly can be for any eventuality.
The Life Stash
The culmination of these things made me realise that I wanted to do something about this situation. So, in summary, I wanted to find a solution that would:
help me to get more organised which would result in me feeling more in control of life;
resolve my 'what if something happens to me/us' worries;
be simple and easy to use and update so that it would grow with me/us as we move through life;
provide an inexpensive solution - I certainly didn't want to spend a lot of my hard-earned cash on a solution!
Always looking for a quick solution, I started to search online for a tool that would help me in my endeavour. This should be easy…… or so I thought and although I found products that could help me to achieve some of my four goals (eg books to complete, online subscription data collection services, lots of advice and guidance) there was nothing that gave me exactly what I wanted. The only thing to do, therefore, was to create my own solution – and The Life Stash was born.