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Everyone knows that because 2012 is the last year on the Mayan calendar it is thought by some to be “the end of the world as we know it.” Most of us don’t believe that the end of the world is nigh, but that doesn’t stop us from contemplating how we’ve lived our lives, what we might put on our “bucket lists,” and what words of wisdom we’d like to pass on to the next generation. For estate planning and elder law attorneys—as well as our clients and readers—this is most likely something we’ve already considered, and hopefully something we’ve planned for as well.

Many people believe that “putting your affairs in order” simply means making your financial arrangements and updating your legal documents; and although these tasks certainly are of immense importance, putting your social, familial and emotional affairs in order is just as important. We’ve written often on our blog about how to put your financial and legal affairs in order, so today we’d like to talk about the other side of things. Some of the suggestions you’ll see below may strike you as small or obvious, but when dealing with the day-to-day tasks and challenges that life brings it’s sometimes all too easy to lose sight of the little things.

1. Tell your family how you feel. If you’re close to your family you may think you do this all the time anyway; but even if you speak to your family often, writing a letter letting them know what they mean to you and how much you love them can make a different kind of impact. A letter is also something tangible your family can keep and treasure after you’re gone.

2. Make family history a priority. How much do you know about the lives of your grandparents and great-grandparents? How much do you wish you knew? Most of us don’t think that our lives or our stories are all that important in the grand scheme of things, but your grandchildren and great-grandchildren may feel differently. Take a shot at writing your memoirs for the benefit of curious future generations. If you think you’re not a writer, or have trouble knowing where to start, there are plenty of books and resources to help you get going.

3. Do something just for you. Whether it’s written it down or not, everybody has a bucket list, a catalogue of things they dream of doing before they die. Well, there’s no time like the present. Nobody lives forever, and the time to do the things you love and see the places you dream about is always right now. Whether you’re taking big leaps or baby steps, don’t let another year go by without making one of those dreams on your bucket list a reality.

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