By Heather Hogeland & Kim Grimm
Most of us don’t like to talk about the day we will no longer be on this planet, but for all drivers, ESPECIALLY those drivers with families, there are some very serious things you really need to think about.
It’s not the happiest of topics, but none is more important! It seems to so many of us that there’s always time to take care of these matters, we have a real reluctance to deal with these issues because the mere thought of our death seems so absurd. We need to get past that and get our stuff together. Not a single one of us can come back after the fact and fix it once we’re gone. If you get sick and know the time is coming sooner than expected, you may be able to put things in order. However, if you are young and healthy you tend to think “it won’t happen to me”. Sadly though, sometimes it does.
Drivers of all ages have a responsibility to those at home to take care of business, which includes the future of the family, not just the present. Being on the road can be dangerous, in fact truck driving consistently rates on the Top 10 list of most dangerous jobs in America. So we really need to take this seriously, as well as our jobs. It can happen to the very best of us; no matter how many safe miles we have behind us. You need to be like a Boy Scout and “Be Prepared”, just in case. As you know, we are not the only drivers on the road and can only control how we drive, not how others do. We’ve all seen completely crazy tailgating, distracted driving, and don’t get us started on being cut-off!
There are things you should have in place, even if you are not a driver. If you have young children, do you have a guardian in mind? Someone you have spoken with who has agreed to take on the responsibility of raising them in case of your absence? Of course this means in the case of the loss of the other parent as well, but this must be addressed. You need to make your wishes known. You need to have these wishes written down and witnessed, at the very least, along with your wishes regarding a living will, advance directive, power of attorney, and organ donation, then signed and notarized. As soon as you can, you need to get the legal documents, fill them out according to the directions and provide copies to those you have chosen, someone you trust wholly and completely.
It’s a really good idea to file copies of the documents with your primary doctor and local hospital. They can, in turn, provide them to facilities you may be admitted to when away from home, so they will be able to follow your wishes if you are unable to tell them yourself. It’s also a great idea to carry them with you, even inside your permit book for easy access, so emergency personnel can honor your requests in the event that you cannot speak for yourself.
Make sure that someone you trust knows where all your important papers are; your insurance policies, will and any other important documents that your family would need. You could even make additional copies for that person and store the originals in a safe or safe deposit box.
If you have items that you would like to see go to certain people in the event of your death, make a list. This is especially important if they aren’t specifically mentioned in your will. This is the best way to make it known whom you want to get what. This helped a great deal when my mom passed away 10 years ago. It didn’t take much time and it all helped us so much, so we all knew we each had exactly what she wanted us to have, which made it even more precious to each of us.
One last tip, keep your beneficiaries and power of attorney up to date. Sometimes people change, get married, divorces occur, etc. It’s a good idea to revisit those questions every so often to be sure the answers are still relevant to your life! Once you have done this it will be a huge weight off of your shoulders. You can relax and enjoy your family, knowing you have done everything possible to look after them.
Stay Safe Out There And Keep It Shiny!
Heather Hogeland and Kim Grimm are CDL holders and longtime friends with a combined 75 years and 7 million miles of driving experience. Both are writers and have a love for everything trucking, as well as, furry, four-legged friends. Kim is currently a full-time owner-operator and part-time writer. Heather writes for various trucking publications and enjoys traveling with her husband Roger.