Putting Your Affairs in Order

Late one night as I lay in a hospital bed during a serious illness, an impression came forcefully to my mind: Set your house in order. After I recovered from the illness, my wife and I visited with an attorney and signed copies of legal documents we’d had him prepare. Then we reviewed several publications about estate planning and, using these references, prepared other needed documents. Finally we gathered all the information into our own plan book for use in the event of hospitalization or death of a family member. We included the following items:

Personal Information

  • Full name, birth date, birthplace, address, and social security number for each family member.

  • Emergency notification list of family and friends to call in case of death or serious illness.

  • A list of organizations to which each person belongs.

  • Summary of military service information and where corresponding documents are kept.

Legal Information

  • Certified copies of birth and marriage certificates.

  • Durable power of attorney for each parent, which allows legal decisions to be made even when a spouse is incapacitated.

  • A legal will drawn up by an attorney.

  • Trust documents for each parent.

Financial Information

  • Sources of income, lists of assets and liabilities.

  • A list of bank, savings, and credit card accounts, with corresponding account numbers.

  • All real estate holdings, along with the names of mortgage lenders and loan account numbers.

  • Insurance policies, names of agents and numbers to call in case of emergencies, beneficiaries, and a brief summary of provisions.

  • Location of safe deposit boxes and a record of their contents.

Medical Information

  • A list of doctors and their phone numbers; a summary of family members’ known allergies and long-term medications.

  • A statement from each parent regarding donation of organs.

  • A living will, if desired, specifying no use of artificial life-support systems beyond reasonable hope of recovery.

  • Medical power of attorney for each spouse, which allows medical decisions to be made by one spouse in the event the other spouse is too ill to do so.

Funeral Arrangements

  • Funeral and burial information indicating the name of the funeral home and cemetery, the location of burial lots, and a list of which services, if any, have already been prearranged for or prepaid.

  • Drafts of obituaries and funeral programs.

  • A list of professional people familiar with our affairs that may be called upon for help, such as accountants, attorneys, and insurance agents.

We made sure our plan book contained information about where important documents or other needed information can be found. We have a schedule to review the information on a periodic basis and keep it updated.

When my wife and I completed our plan book, we felt a sense of satisfaction in having put our temporal affairs in order. We discussed the contents of the book with our children and showed them where the book would be kept. We kept the original and made one copy, which was given to our eldest son, who will be the executor of our estate. We hope the plan book won’t be needed for many years, but we feel secure knowing it is ready.Melvin J. Stanford, Provo, Utah

The Golden Years of Family Home Evening

Now that our children have grown up and left home, my husband and I have found rich blessings in maintaining the spirit of holding family home evenings. Following are some ideas to do with or without a spouse.

  • Organize a family home evening group. Take turns preparing a lesson from an Ensign article, a recent conference report, the scriptures, and Church manuals and courses of study.

  • Invite a relative to join with you in researching a common pedigree line.

  • Gather a bouquet of flowers from your garden and take them to a shut-in. Stay and visit for a while.

  • Invite extended family members over for a pioneer evening with old-fashioned games, a taffy pull, and stories about their ancestors.

  • Record on a cassette tape fond memories, fun stories, and messages for a grandchild who lives far away; then mail it.

  • Write letters to missionaries.

  • Check out a Church video from the meetinghouse library and invite someone to share a treat while you both enjoy watching the video.

  • Invite friends, especially nonmembers, over for a potluck dinner. Ask a missionary couple to join you for the meal and to share their inspirational experiences.

  • Update your personal history, or help someone else write theirs by listening to them and typing their experiences.

  • Find out who may be celebrating a birthday at a nearby retirement center. Take a treat or a card and visit them.

  • Organize a group of older single members to perform service projects for one another, such as helping with yard work, quilting, or home repairs.

  • Buy or bake a treat and leave it on the doorstep of someone special in your ward. Include a note of appreciation for that person’s contributions to the ward or community.

  • Read the lessons that will be presented in church the following Sunday.Judith Hyde, Farmington, Utah

Getting Started with Family History

Whether you are a convert to the Church or descend from Latter-day Saint pioneer families, fulfilling your desire to do temple work for your own ancestors begins by taking the same steps. Following are the results of an actual search made by a Latter-day Saint whom we will call Brother Jones. A descendant of an early LDS pioneer family, Brother Jones felt sure that the temple ordinances had already been performed for most of his ancestors, but he wanted to be sure.

First, he prayed for the Lord to guide him. Then he reviewed his own family history records. As he read a history of the Grants, he came across the fact that the eldest son, Joseph, had never joined the Church. Joseph moved to Michigan, where he died in 1858. Brother Jones wanted to learn more about this “Uncle Joseph” and wondered if his temple work was complete.

Brother Jones then contacted relatives to see if they knew anything about Joseph’s family. No one did, so he visited the FamilySearch® center nearest him, which was in his stake center. He had read about FamilySearch in A Member’s Guide to Temple and Family History Work (item no. 34697) and in the Ensign (see, for example, “Everyone’s Blessing,” Dec. 1994, 19–20). He knew that FamilySearch was a set of computer programs and files created by the Church to help members and others with their family history. He also knew that his ward family history consultant or a volunteer at the family history center could help him use it.

Once at the family history center, Brother Jones discovered that Ancestral File™—a part of FamilySearch—was the best place to begin his search. Ancestral File contains nearly 30 million names of persons linked into families and pedigrees. Their names and dates and places of birth, marriage, and death information have been submitted by their descendants and other relatives. The name and address of each submitter is also listed. Often LDS ordinance dates are listed, but the official index of LDS ordinance dates is found in the International Genealogical Index® (IGI).

All Brother Jones had to do to access this information was press a key on the computer keyboard, and when the inquiry screen came up, he typed in the name of Joseph Grant. He also added Joseph’s birth year, 1805, to help narrow the search. In just a few seconds, Ancestral File displayed the record of Joseph with his parents, brothers and sisters, and other Grant ancestors. Brother Jones was thrilled. This record showed that Joseph Grant’s temple work had been completed for his baptism, endowment, and sealing to parents in 1899 and 1901. But there was no listing of Joseph’s wife and children, so Brother Jones knew that he would have to look further.

Brother Jones had achieved his goal by following these important steps:

  1. 1.

    He prayed for guidance.

  2. 2.

    He reviewed his own family records.

  3. 3.

    He consulted with known relatives.

  4. 4.

    He searched Ancestral File, a part of FamilySearch.

As a result, Brother Jones felt closer to his ancestors and found the truth expressed by Elder Boyd K. Packer in The Holy Temple: “When we research our own lines we become interested in more than just names. … Our interest turns our hearts to our fathers” ([1980], 240).

Brother Jones was now ready to move on to the next step—searching the IGI.Elizabeth L. Nichols, Salt Lake City, Utah

[illustrations] Illustrated by Scott Greer

[photos] Photography by John Luke, Michael Schoenfeld, and Welden Andersen