When You’re Gone, Then What?

This is going to be a very different piece of writing then what you might be used to reading here. In fact, it will contain mostly questions and very few answers. This is a bit of a brain dump for me since the tragic and unexpected passing of a DJ colleague.

Glen Millar was a mobile DJ in Edmonton, Alberta who passed away earlier this year due to a heart attack. In addition to his DJ business, he left behind his 6-year-old daughter for whom he was the sole provider as a single parent.

Glen and I only knew each other through Facebook. We would exchange messages from time to time and participate in various discussions in Facebook DJ groups. He came off as a very pleasant individual and a person who was passionate about DJing. As the details of Glen’s past struggles have come to light and the perilous situation his daughter and business now find themselves in, I find myself asking questions that I have never spent much time considering.

In a tribute post to Glen in the Canadian DJ Network Facebook group (a Facebook group that Glen founded), Mike Lupo said it best when he wrote “I think it’s time that we share plans on what happens in the event of our death.”

I could not agree more with Mike and I will fully admit that I have no plan. My wife, who currently plays no role in my DJ business, might be able to figure things out, but I have not prepared any instructions for her on what she should do, were I to suddenly pass away. This needs to change.

In speaking with other DJs since Glen’s passing, many have put forth their own thoughts about what considerations we should be making now, in the event that an untimely death befall any of us. Many DJs, including Mike and I, have been pondering a lot of questions since Glen’s passing including:

  • What happens to my immediate events?
  • How easily can someone else access and understand my event planning materials for specific events?
  • How are all of my upcoming clients informed about what happened?
  • What happens to all of my upcoming events?
  • How are replacement DJs found for future events?
  • What is the process of refunding booking fees?
  • Who are the other business professionals that should be contacted in the event my business ceases to operate? (accountant, bookkeeper, website host, etc.)
  • How is access provided and what should be posted on my DJ business social media accounts?
  • How is access provided to the many business (and personal) online accounts and services I use? (Facebook, email, DJ Event Planner, etc.)
  • What instructions should be provided for managing all of my business liabilities and assets?

Just over a year ago, I had a great conversation with Ian Lewer, a wonderful mobile DJ from Nova Scotia. Following our mostly performance related discussions, he asked me if my wife and I had established a will and if I had life insurance. I told him that while my wife and I had discussed establishing a will on a number of occasions, we had yet to set one up. On the topic of life insurance, I expressed another reluctant “no.”

When Ian isn’t out DJing, he works full time for Dalhousie University in helping manage what people might want to give to the university upon their death. Ian’s experience in dealing with people who have carefully determined plans for their death is exceptional and it has become a life mission of his to help others plan for such things as well. This lead to him asking me the questions he did.

I am embarrassed to admit that here we are, one year on, and while the process of establishing a proper will and life insurance has begun, we have yet to finalize either. Then, I read about Glen Millar’s passing.

It is time for me to stop talking and thinking about these matters and actually get something done. This needs to be done for the benefit of my family, my friends, my clients and my colleagues in the DJ community who may be called upon to help, should I no longer be able to fulfill my event commitments.

In regards to that above list of questions, I do not yet have answers to them, but I am going to assemble a document containing a series of directives, outlining what needs to be done, should I find myself unable to run my business due to severe illness or death. This will be a document my wife will have and fully understand, should a need for its implementation arrive. As soon as I have this document assembled, I will share it here and with anyone else who wants a copy of it.

Please ask yourself all of these questions and as difficult as it will be, please come up with some answers and write them down. Save someone else the painful guesswork and unnecessary struggle.

Thank you.

~ Dave

10 thoughts on “When You’re Gone, Then What?”

  1. This is an excellent post. It’s something to think about. Heaven forbid if I pass away, I put myself and my family in a position where they have enough protection where my hard earned money grows exponential tax-free. Plus I have given my family the knowledge to continue to run my business so they can continue my legacy.

      1. Dave, I hesitate to offer specifics because amounts vary based on everyone’s personal situation. But you may be surprised to know that you can get $250,000 of 20 year Term Life Insurance for $500 or less per year.

        1. After discussing with an Investors Group representative, we were looking at Term Life for just under $100/month which would get us $800,000 each (combined total $1,600,000). Just trying to figure out if that’s “too much”.

  2. Thank you for sharing Dave! These are important points that many of us never think about. I have some things in place, but not enough. I will create a Google Doc that is shared with my wife with instructions on what to do, this way as they change I just keep updating it there and she can always find it.

  3. Well written Dave. I finally got life insurance for the myself last year that can work like an investment to provide funding for the kids education down the road.

    I think the other part of the story is how the recession in Alberta brought a DJ like Glen to charge a fraction of what he used to command. If DJ’s are just scratching by in a healthy economy how well will we and our families be doing when when things fall apart?

    1. Very good point Sam. Thanks for encouraging me on the life insurance bit. I must get it done. Good on you for having it in place.

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