52 Ancestors – Week Nine – Where There’s a Will …

If you follow my blog (or know me at all!) you are aware that I am THE KEEPER OF THE FAMILY TREASURES! As I mentioned in my post about family heirlooms, this is an awesome responsibility that I don’t take lightly. 

As part of my Genealogy Do-Over in 2015 (sponsored by Thomas MacEntee of High Definition Genealogy), I created an inventory of some of the major items in our “family museum” using an Excel spreadsheet. (Click here to learn how to create one yourself.) I read Thomas’ book  After You’re Gone: Future-Proofing Your Genealogy Research. I watched his webinar on Familytreewebinars on the same subject. Then, at a JGSCT (Jewish Genealogical Society of Connecticut) board meeting I learned that our April 2018 presentation would be given by Marian Burk Wood, the author of Planning a Future for Your Family’s Past. Right up my alley!! I immediately downloaded her book to my Kindle app and started reading. That was November 2017. Three months later-  still no will, genealogical or otherwise. 
Inspired by this week’s blog prompt for the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks challenge and thinking that perhaps my readers may be more proactive than myself, I decided to write a little book review. 
$8.99 on Amazon.com
In her book, Planning a Future for Your Family’s Past, which is written in an easy-to-read conversational style, Marian shares her PASS system: 
Prepare by organizing materials. 
Allocate ownership. 
Set up a genealogical will. 
Share with heirs. 
The book is organized by topic and chapter and designed as a step-by-step process, but Marian suggests which chapters to focus on depending on where you are in the process. A summary of specific points is listed at the end of each chapter. As a teacher,  I appreciate that Marian provides this “takeaway” of the points she wants you to focus on.
Personal examples of how using her methods helped her solve specific problems makes it easy to understand how to apply the methods to your own work.
In Chapter 5 Marian describes the value of indexing your inventory. I had no issue with doing an inventory but I was a little skeptical of spending all of that time doing indexing. After reading the chapter (complete with examples and templates) and learning how she was able to solve a family mystery, I got it. 
Another great feature is the inclusion of many links to explore for further information on the specific strategies she describes.
I had done pretty well on the first two steps, but step three – set up a genealogical will – was something I had yet to do. (Admittedly, I do have a problem with wills, a trait I might have inherited from my mom – we wrote hers during the last few weeks of her life. My husband and I have yet to write one ourselves. Thank goodness nothing bad happened when the kids were young!) 

In Chapter 9 Marian shares suggestions for identifying heirs, and something I’d never considered- getting permission to bequeath your c
ollection BEFORE you send someone your “life’s work”!
Her tips on giving things away while I’m still here might help me connect with my living relatives – something I’m not really good about! 

Chapter 10 is all about writing your genealogical will. A sample template is provided along with some very practical advice, such as leaving a sum of money to help your heirs care for your collection.

The final step of the PASS process is sharing with your heirs. Marian provides many ideas for sharing your research now. If you haven’t yet started writing your story, get going! Marian’s tips are very helpful; making what can be a daunting task easier – write a blog, write a story, make a commemorative keepsake …
Whatever the size of your collection, the practical information in Planning a Future for Your Family’s Past will help you to keep the stories alive! 

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