Michael Krasny

"Helga writes from the heart and she puts lucidly into prose good, sound and wise advice about the ways for us to begin needed conversations across the generation chasm."

– Host of KQED Forum and author of Spiritual Envy: An Agnostic's Quest



Stan Jernigan

"A pathway, guide and instruction book for dealing with two taboo subjects – money and death. Helga shows how families can avoid misunderstandings about these two issues. This book should be mandatory reading for every parent and adult child."

–Founder, The Mentor Group



Robert Burton, M.D.

"A common sense approach to rethinking personal relationships in the light of not-so-intuitively obvious cognitive science discoveries."

– Author of On Being Certain: Believing That You Are Right Even When You're Not



Bruce Feldstein, M.D.

"I've seen the peace that comes to families who can have the conversations included in this book."

– Director, The Jewish Chaplaincy
Stanford University Medical Center



The Money, Love and Legacy Resources Page

In case of illness, emergency or death, the last thing children should have to deal with is confusion about financial, legal, medical, and end-of-life preferences that they did not know about. At a time of crisis or grief, the ability to think clearly is severely compromised. It’s hard to make decisions about anything. It’s even harder to try to find papers and records that could easily, with a little bit of planning and forethought, have been gathered and catalogued in advance.

It is an act of love for parents to provide their adult chidren with the information they need to help them as they age. The best way to do this is keep the information in one place. I like to think of this as a Legacy Binder.

There are commercial binders for this purpose such as Vital Records PortaVault ( with pre-labeled tabs and document pockets for organizing your records and papers. You can also make your own binder and insert tabbed sheets for each category. The important thing is to have a system that you can easily update if any information changes. For everyone’s protection, make sure that any changes are noted and included in the appropriate section in the binder.

Adult children should know where this binder is kept. Under no circumstances should it be stored in a safety deposit box, as loved ones may need access to the information outside of banking hours. If parents don’t want to disclose financial information, they should at least have the financial and legal contacts listed in case the children need them. Funeral preferences should be readily available because this is the first thing children will have to deal with. You can keep the binder in a fireproof safe as long as you have the combination. If you choose to keep the originals in a safety deposit box, be sure adult children are authorized to enter it.

Legacy Binder

PDF Downloads:

Medical Information Form

Emergency Medical Form for your Parents

Resource links:


The following sites are recommended by Paula Span who writes The New Old Age blog at the the NY Times.Her personal website is



Family Caregiver Alliance

Strength for Caring

The Eldercare Locator (from the U.S. Administration on Aging)

National Family Caregivers Association

For services at home:
Meals on Wheels Association of America

National Adult Day Services Association

For information about senior facilities and residences:
Consumer Consortium on Assisted Living

National Citizens’ Coalition for Nursing Home Reform

American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging (AAHSA)

To find professionals:
National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers

National Senior Citizens Law Center

For information on hospice and end of life care:
National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization
877-658-8898 (Spanish)


Buy the book Money, Love & Legacy

Build Your Own Legacy Binder
Build Your Own Legacy Binder


What Readers Say

Are there relationship issues which need to be cleared up? Have you shared your important values and truths with your loved ones? Are there any amends you would wish to make or forgiveness you would seek?  This is a book from which all can benefit as they contemplate their own deaths or the loss of those they love.  – Susan Gilbert  Read More...
Money Love & Legacy offers what most of us need and desire in our heart-of-hearts --- a gentle and extremely informative guidebook for dealing with two taboo subjects: money and death. The "Legacy Binder" (a step-by-step guide to assembling critical papers and information) alone is worth the price. – Marya Charles Alexander  Read More...  
Helga Hayse takes emotionally charged, difficult topics between parents, children and family members, and provides wise and relevant advice on why it's so important to talk about them.  Grudges, anger, perceived wrongs, misunderstandings, whatever, will all be trumped eventually by death and its finality.   – E. Charnes  Read More...
After buying and reading this book, my husband and I began a series of conversations with our elderly parent, our adult children and stepchildren and most important, with each other about how we want to plan our own futures. – Tira Meesue  Read More...
I have seen the harm caused by families not discussing these important matters before it is too late. Yesterday, I handed my three grown daughters each a copy, and I'm actually looking forward to our future conversations with this book as our guide. – Barbara Crary  Read More...