My daughter recently asked how she or her brother would know where to find important papers if both my husband and I should die. She has the right to ask this since we made her the executor of our estate, but hey, this is me we’re talking about, not my parents (whose estate I had to handle a few years ago).
Today I started tackling the process of answering her question: where she’d find our safety deposit box and what she’d find in it; where she’d find the key to our storage unit; what bank we use; insurance papers; and so on. We do have a will and a trust, but I know from experience the more you know about your parents’ assets, the easier it is to settle the estate.
We put our daughter in charge of the overall estate, but I put our son in charge of my literary estate. He’ll also need to know where he can find my book contracts, reversions of rights, and what’s active in either print or e-book form.
It’s not as if he’ll have a difficult job or tons of money to control, but I’m always hoping my next book will hit the New York Times list and sell millions of copies. (I am a dreamer, but you have to be to write fiction.) Chances are he’ll pull the few books I have up on Kindle and Smashwords, but even if he does, he’ll need to know how to log in and the passwords. As for the extra copies I have of my published books, well I hope he gives them to friends or charities rather than dump them in the garbage, but I guess that will be his decision.
The point I’m trying to make is if you have published books or books for sale in e-pub format, you do need to think about what would happen if you did die. And it isn’t a matter of getting old and dying. Everyday there are reports of accidental deaths from drowning or car accidents, and the massacre in Colorado should certainly warn us that tragedy can happen at any time, anywhere.
So don’t put it off. Make a plan, or a list. Knowing what to do in case you do die will certainly make it easier on those left behind.