How the Departing Details Workbook came to be

"I decided I wouldn’t leave my family in this situation."

For many years one of my personal goals has been to help spread the word about the advantages of ensuring one’s personal business is in order and the value of having meaningful conversations before a grim diagnosis, tragic accident, or death makes it impossible. This passion began in my first career as a nurse when I witnessed families struggling with decisions and was rekindled when I couldn’t locate some required documents after my parents’ passing. Finally, after being involved in a very sad experience with a friend where refusal to plan and outright denial played a huge role, I decided I wouldn’t leave my family in this situation.

I started to compile the relevant information in a binder and over 12 years it just kept growing as I thought of additional topics to include.

Because it was developed when we were all healthy, many of the more emotionally-charged topics were less difficult to tackle and we even had some laughter when discussing our wishes and coming up with the initial name for the workbook: “The Doomsday Book.” The workbook likely would have remained a private family binder, but for a series of events starting in June of 2016. At that time I volunteered to organize a program for a business group on the topic of Advance Care Directives with an expert medical doctor as the speaker. As part of the program, I suggested we provide the workbook as a handout for the attendees; coincidentally one of the attendees was an Estate Planner and asked if he could buy copies for his clients.



Prior to distributing the workbook more widely, it was professionally edited, designed, and renamed. The professional expertise of friends and colleagues was also welcomed in a final review of the contents. Between the fall of 2016 and early 2017 a few hundred copies were sold just by word of mouth, including to a major Canadian bank which purchased copies for clients. As the initiative gained momentum, my dilemma became how to facilitate broader exposure, in an affordable way, to people who might not have access to corporate copies.

"Planning avoids unnecessary stress and even chaos, and is an act of love and kindness for your family."

In March of 2017, it was my good fortune to partner with a successful Internet entrepreneur, Steve Harris, and his team. Having run his online business for six years, Steve had the eCommerce, marketing, and business knowledge that would propel the workbook into its next phase and in April 2017 our website, www.estateworkbook.com, went live. Initially we planned to only offer digital downloads, but based on feedback we soon realized that many people wanted the convenience of purchasing a ready-to-use hardcopy. So first came the shrink-wrapped printed workbook followed by the newest addition, a Premium Binder. This luxury binder came about as an option for gifting, in particular to parents, employees, and clients (or for people who just want a really great looking binder for themselves).

Partners of the DDW


Since launching the website we have been focused on enhancing the “Resource “section. It is our goal to provide links to educational websites that provide valuable information to assist in pre-planning for all our viewers, whether they purchase a copy of Departing Details or not.

Although I hadn’t anticipated being totally engaged in a new business venture just when I was easing toward retirement, it is very satisfying to start a company that simply grew from my personal passion to encourage people to plan. Planning avoids unnecessary stress and even chaos, and is an act of love and kindness for your family. An added bonus is that the process of completing the workbook often fosters conversations and results in a more meaningful experience for the whole family.

Wishing you peace of mind;

Rosemary Pahl

Author and Partner,
Departing Details Workbook.

2 comments

  • Evelyn Capps

    I have been in the process for two weeks doing just this… compiling a binder of the duties of an executor…the importance and therefore order of tasks involved, phone numbers of who to call, and what they need to process the death, and cancellations with government departments and memberships. And how to deal with evaluations, record keeping, and the gadzillion other things one doesn’t even think of that need to be done. I am almost finished. I have several lists from funeral homes but they are mostly concerned naturally with their role. I cannot imagine an employed family member having to assume the role without taking time off work, especially these days when privacy rules are so important and voice mail is the “in-thing”. Good luck selling your package!

  • Kandee Schulz

    I live in southern Idaho and am interesting in assisting people with this kind of estate planning. I have lost both of my parents in 2015 and 2017 and had a pretty sizeable estate to keep track of as personal rep and know how much work it is. I certainly learned what to do what not to do along the way. I know how overwhelming it can be and would like to be of assistance if you are looking for someone in this area to help you reach out to people.
    Thank you!

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