Getting your affairs in order
What is Estate Organization and how does it differ from the hands-on
services after a loss?
Estate Organization, as originally defined, consists of the
organization and documentation of all the information relating to your
estate. This is the who, what, where, when and how of your personal estate,
the information your family needs at a time of crisis.
This field was pioneered and established when Jeanne started her
business, Exit Stage Right® in 1992, and created her first workbook for this
purpose. She has updated these materials and made them available in a
workbook format and a
CD-ROM computer software program!
Jeanne also pioneered the field of Assisting
Estate Administrators, offering hands-on services to conservators,
successor trustees, or executors with the paperwork and the physical estate
management after a loss.
Note: Some providers have begun using the term “Estate
Organization” to describe their hands-on services, as they do not provide
the pre-planning documentation services. This can be somewhat confusing to
So why would I want to spend the time to do the Estate Organization
- Would your family know what to do in times of crises?
- Do they have any idea where you keep your important papers or your
choices for burial or cremation?
- Do they know who your advisors are and what provisions you have made
The most difficult decisions must be made within hours after a death
occurs — a time when the family is immobilized by shock and grief. The
stress of this crisis period can be greatly reduced if a strategic game
plan has been created prior to the loss, and all the players know where
the “play book” is located. They don’t need to have the plays memorized,
they will just need the guidebook to follow! This program, when
completed, will include all the information your family will need to handle
the practical and administrative issues surrounding loss — be it from
disaster, incapacity or death.
There is a direct correlation between how we face death and prepare our
families, and their ability to survive, adjust and begin the recovery from
grief! Organizing your estate is a "gift of love" that extends far beyond
the time you can be there to care for your family.
Although the legal and financial plans are essential tools in estate
planning, they represent the tip of the iceberg of the planning needed for
your family. The practical and administrative issues involved can be so
overwhelming that they can sink the family ship.
To capture this information, Jeanne has created “Exit Strategies: A
Plan and A Place For Your Estate Information”™ In addition to the pages
to record your personal information, Jeanne has written a Family Resource
Guide. This is basically a primer in life management to equip you to assist
multiple generations with their estate organization issues.
The Family Resource Guide addresses topics such as:
- Our denial, fears and reasons we procrastinate
- Generic information on wills, trusts, advanced health care directives,
- Medicare and other health insurance issues
- Adult living facility options
- Retirement plans and IRAs
- Making final arrangements
- Spiritual issues involved with loss
The data pages are available to record all your personal
information and choices as well as your legal and financial data. Some of
the categories include:
- Whom to call at time of crisis
- Emergency child-care arrangements
- Location of bank accounts, safe deposit box and investments
- Automatic deposits and withdrawals from your bank accounts
- Location of your legal documents
- List of advisors
- Insurance issues
- Planning your final arrangements
- Veterinarian and choices regarding your pets
- Household information and when the garbage goes out
- Inheritable frequent flier files and time-shares
Some people prefer to fill out forms with a pencil, while others prefer
to use their computer for this purpose. Thus this tool is available in both
a paper format and as a computer software program on a CD-ROM.
The 100+ page, estate-organization workbook is spiral bound and opens
flat for easy use. The binding can be removed and the pages 3 hole punched
for use in a binder. The material is divided into categories to facilitate
The same holds true for the CD-ROM format. Each major category has a page
break at the end so that the pages can be printed and put into a binder. The
margins have been set to allow for this process.
To order this workbook, or brand new CD program, click here
for the mail-in order form.
To purchase the workbook or CD program online,
When she was 86, my mother and I spent a delightful day working together
to complete "Exit Strategies: A Plan and A Place For Your Estate
Information." She visibly relaxed as she put all her wishes and information
in one place where my brother and I could access it easily when needed. She
even planned, with love and enthusiasm, her own memorial service down to
favorite prayers and music, calling it her "last party." We are so grateful
to Jeanne Smith and Exit Stage Right for creating and publishing this
Judy Johnson, San Carlos CA
When I saw Jeanne at a professional luncheon in 1995, I intuitively knew
that I had to contact her. Thinking that I'd get a workbook for my mother
(then 81), I then decided also to buy for myself. We both completed the
workbooks. A year later, I had a serious surgery and consequent stroke, and
nine months after that, my mother died on the East Coast. Jeanne's calm
support, necessary contacts and saintly patience during this difficult time
— not to mention the incredible help of her workbooks — consoled and
organized my scattered and grief-stricken state of being. God bless Jeanne!
Laura B. Michaels, Menlo Park, CA