In which I put affairs in order
Aspen, CO ColoradoThere’s nothing better than a three-day weekend, hiding out from the tourists like a rabbit in coyote territory, for tidying up loose business.In my case, “loose business” meant “putting my affairs in order,” affairs which were literally in extreme disorder, with piles of papers stacked so perilously high on my desk that I have hardly been able to find my computer for quite a long time.The “affairs” themselves are not that complicated but, as my daughter Skye found when she accidentally inherited the role of executrix when my brother died suddenly this fall, even a minimalist can leave behind quite a mess to be sorted out.What I needed was an updated will, an updated living will, power of attorney, a tidy list including: lawyer, financial advisor, tax person, bank account, insurance and credit card information (what were those PIN numbers?), and people to be notified in case I get hit by a truck.I have a two-drawer file cabinet crammed with a daunting amount of folders, mainly dealing with the massive amounts of bills I incurred when I was felled with hoof and lung disease eight (eight!) years ago.The oxygen file alone was about 3 inches thick, and all of this stuff had been saved because, for the first time, I had been able to take a substantial tax deduction for medical expenses, but the statute of limitations had run out and all this crap served only to intimidate anyone who opened the drawers.The cramming was not only long out of date, but was the reason why everything else had piled up on my desk: there was no place to put it.So the first step (and the reason I hadn’t gotten to it sooner) was to jettison the bulk of the old files, the second step was to carry all of the desk piles to the kitchen table, sort them, toss half of them and re-file the rest into CURRENT files.The thing about current files is that they can so quickly become old files. When it came to the new will, I would have sworn I updated that a couple of years ago only to find the last one was written in 1986.I’m always amazed when tasks I have been putting off “forever” turn out to be so easily resolved. Within a couple of hours I had whipped through the old and the current messes, filled a 30-gallon trash bag with identification theft detritus, and was down to a small pile of paper scraps with e-mail addresses, websites I planned to visit some day, and indecipherable and/or incomprehensible messages I had scribbled. “Exceptional candid camera greasers” – what in the world did that mean?It seemed to take longer, because with projects of this sort one gets fired up and distracted by other tasks such as cleaning the microwave and laundering all the towels.By the end of the second day I had found a living will online (short version) and had rewritten my personal will – now all I have to do is update the address book on my computer and write up those lists.Of course this only works if you die right away. Not having that intention, by 2008 I will have amassed a whole new collection of bills and insurance replies saying they aren’t going to pay for them.Happy new year, may it be better than the last. Su Lum is a longtime local who is ready for tax time. Her column appears every Wednesday in The Aspen Times.