While the origin of the phrase to “get one’s ducks in a row” is questionable, I opt for the image of actual ducks and how ducklings line up when following their mothers. The American idiom means to take care of one’s duties and responsibilities to organize one’s affairs.

The COVID-19 pandemic is not the 2020 vision you or I (or Oprah) had in mind! As we adjust our expectations, reinvent celebrations, and alter our daily routines, now may be the right time to get your ducks in a row! And to do so, we suggest you start at home.

“Home Sweet Home” conjures up new images these days, as families hunker down and transform their homes to school classrooms and “zoom rooms.” The phrase, “What’s for dinner?” takes on new challenges, too, as we navigate one-way grocery store aisles. Our favorite dine-in spot is now serving us curbside with a brown bag dinner complete with a Sippy cup cocktail.

As a NASMM @Home Specialist, I’m excited to bring you Part I of a three-part series where I share my go-to-tips for the home. In these uncertain times, we may want to crawl under the covers some days. However, with a bit of focus and perhaps, some homework, you too can get your ducks in a row and enjoy more peace of mind!

Part I: Are Your Ducks in a Row (e.g., Are your affairs in order)?

  • Vital documents. Gather all your essential documents and put them in one designated place for safekeeping. These crucial documents include, but are not limited to:
  1. A Will
  2. A Living Will
  3. A Health Care Proxy
  4. A Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) Order, if applicable
  5. A Durable Power of Attorney
  6. Marriage Certificate / Divorce Decree
  7. Military Discharge papers
  8. The Title to your vehicle(s), boat(s), etc.
  9. The Deed to your home(s), if applicable
  10. Insurance Policies (Life, Home, Auto), as applicable
  11. Long Term Care Policy, if applicable
  12. Any other vital papers a loved one would search high and low to find, should they need it. Help them out!

If you are missing some documents, make it a priority to get them. Where to start? Perhaps, just making a phone call to discuss the topic with your loved ones. As you round up these documents and put them in a safe place, be sure to tell your loved ones where they are stored.

  • Passwords and Personal Identification Numbers (PINs), oh my! From computer logins to social media accounts, to online banking, to accessing ATMs – there’s a lot of passwords and PINs out there! Consider organizing them all in one place, using a tool like LastPass or a simple notebook.

Would your loved ones be able to access your essential online information and accounts? Could they find what they needed, when they needed it? Finally, discuss with your loved ones how you would like your social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, etc.)  handled should you no longer need them.

  • Safety deposit boxes. Do you have one? Do you know what’s in the box? Do you know where the key is? Have you updated the access list to be sure your loved ones can access the box?

Remember, you do not have 24 x 7 access to a safety deposit box. Don’t put anything in the box that you would need in an emergency.

  • Funeral arrangements. Have you completed pre-funeral arrangements? Do you own a burial plot? Do your loved ones know where you wish your final resting place to be? Do you want to be cremated? Do you have any special requests? Have you thought about the type of service you would like?

Any arrangements you can do in advance will make it easier for your loved ones. Again, be sure to document your wishes and put all pertinent information in one place, where your loved ones can easily access it.

Don’t stress! Some of these tips may take longer to complete. Over time, checking all the boxes will give you a great sense of accomplishment that I’m sure you would welcome just about now.

Sadly, COVID-19 has taught us that life is precious. The unexpected can happen.  Should the unimaginable occur, would your family have what they needed?