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Advice to Die For

May 11, 1997

When I told my son I had decided to enroll in Cal Berkeley's Extension course for three weeks in July and go on to London for another week, he gave me some wise advice. He suggested that I prepare a "worst case scenario," and how I would deal with each event.

I started with the usual things: lost passport or credit/ATM cards, verify out of area medical coverage, spare prescription medications, etc. But I heard of an acquaintance who was on a cruise near Central America: Her husband died unexpectedly. Everything after that was a horror story, including the body not arriving in time for the memorial service.

Since I am 78 years old, albeit in good health, death while I am abroad should be on my worst-case-scenario list.

My call to the British Consulate was the most productive. They said that the American Embassy would be the first to be called (or the embassy of the country of the deceased). They suggested emergency information be inscribed on the back pages of the passport. So, inside my passport, there will be not only the emergency numbers to contact my children but the name of the mortuary where my pre-need documents are held.

Additional information will be prominently displayed at home, such as instructions for my retirement benefits program, my living trust documents, list of traveler check numbers, a copy of my passport and whatever else I can think of. My children will be informed that all of this is in place. Of course, I expect to come back home, and put it all way, but just in case. . . .

ADELAIDE TATTO

Pacoima

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