Many of our Solo Agers wonder “how will my executor know I died?” (Especially if they’ve chosen me as their professional executor, as opposed to someone they see daily). Solo Agers tend to live alone, so this is a very understandable and common question.
Notify in case of death
In New York, many Solo Agers live in buildings with a doorman, which is very convenient. Many of these buildings have “Notify in Case of Death/Emergency” forms. The Solo Ager would put my name on the form and indicate that I am the executor. Also, your doorman or super will know if something is wrong when they don’t see you coming and going anymore. Over time, they tend to recognize routines and changes to them.
Some doctors have similar forms to add my name as attorney/executor. The doctor will know what to do from there.
Perhaps you made pre-paid funeral arrangements, or you have chosen your funeral home. The funeral home should also have the same type of forms.
Aside from having official paperwork to notify the executor, you should also leave clues of who to contact in case of death.
Make sure your executor is listed in your paper address book. Believe it or not, it’s not always easy to get contact information from a person’s cell phone.
Another way is to put the executor/attorney’s business card on the refrigerator. Hopefully it would be obvious to someone who comes into your home that they should call that attorney upon your passing.
Once you have asked us to be your executor, we send you items on occasion, such as books and holiday cards. This is a less subtle way to let someone know who to contact. Maybe your neighbor comes in and finds that you have passed. If she sees the “How to Hire a Professional Executor Book” on your coffee table and a holiday card from us on the mantel, then hopefully she would put the clues together and call our office.
Once you hire us to be your professional executors, we call you for annual check-ins. These calls will naturally result in casual mentions among friends: “I was just taking to my executor…”
So now your friends know that you have a professional executor, even if they don’t know my name. That should trigger them to search for my name upon your passing. Asking friends to remember little details of your life is probably not realistic. So, a few clues are more likely to recall something you said earlier.
Another reason these check-in calls are helpful is that the conversations give me an update on ongoing health issues. If there is a downward trend, I will know to monitor your situation a little more often.
Worst case scenario, if you were to pass away a minute after we hang up from our annual call, I’ll know within a year when it’s time for our next call. It’s not ideal, but it works.
There’s no perfect way of letting me know, but these are the most common scenarios. If you don’t already have one, please click the link below to get a free copy of my book, “The Solo Ager Estate Plan.”
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