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Organizing your professional affairs: Set up a ‘Business Executor’

What will happen to your professional affairs if you suddenly die?

True customer service and support requires preparing for such possibility. Getting your affairs in order can also be helpful for basic recordkeeping and file management.

As a long-time freelancer, I’ve always worried about what would happen, and how my clients would get notified if something happened to me, or worse. Then, a few years ago, a close professional colleague died suddenly. It was disastrous for his loved ones, and bad for his customers and clients as well. We miss him sorely.

In the aftermath of his death, several colleagues and I discussed what we could do to help one another in case that happened to any of us. We made a pact and offered to serve as “Business Executors” for one another. A Business Executor takes on the responsibility of contacting clients, agents, and professional contacts and closing business arrangements. They may also assist the personal Executor as necessary.

It’s always a good idea to have your affairs in order. If you can articulate what that order is, and describe your system, then you are already on your way to making things easier for your clients and colleagues.

And if they’re not yet in order, well, now’s the time.

So I sat down and wrote up all my passwords and accounts, and described how I file and track projects. Then I shared that document with one of my indexing colleagues, who had agreed to serve as my Business Executor. I’m confident now that, should anything happen to me, none of my clients, or anybody else with whom I’m doing business, will be left in the lurch. My colleague knows how to find my current projects, and I trust her to contact clients and close out all current work and business accounts.

What a load off!

  1. Write it all down: Passwords (or where they are) and accounts (financial, email, phone, current projects, all of it) and contact information (partners, family, executors)
  2. Secure copies of that document and let the appropriate people know where it is. My Business Executor friend has a hard copy. I have a hard copy in the same secured place where my related legal documents are stored, as well as in a folder on my desktop.

Pilar Wyman is a full-time professional freelance indexer. She has been writing indexes and providing related consulting services for over 32 years.