Survivor guide : Preparation Checklist

The Survivor Guide™ is the work of Robert Fisher, my husband, the founder and current president of Fisher Financial Systems. The inception of this groundbreaking guide comes to the market after two decades of planning and revising. The story of Robert’s life is intimately intertwined with the development of this very personal and useful planning tool.

Robert and I were high school sweethearts. We married shortly after he graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1981, and within a year, our first son was born. In 1983 Robert was called to his first tour of duty on a submarine. It was at that time he realized he would soon be leaving his very young and vulnerable family behind. The weight of the situation became Robert’s focus for the next several months. Being a consummate planner, he spent many late nights constructing a special book for me that would later become known as The Survivor Guide™.

Robert gathered and documented every piece of our personal and financial data in this book, and he gave it to me the day before he left for his first deployment. It included bank account numbers and contacts, loan information, life insurance policies, military benefits, and a host of other important data. I was still in the hospital holding our second son in my arms when he left with his sea bag over his shoulder.

Robert returned safely from his deployment, and even after he left the military in 1986, The Survivor Guide remained with our family as a reference for a broad range of personal affairs. Robert continued to update and revise the book as our family grew.

In 1996, Robert was diagnosed with Stage II colon cancer, and once again The Survivor Guide™ became a major tool in keeping our family’s structure and security in focus. Now with three children, aged 12, 11 and 6, the needs of our young family were very different from our earlier Navy days. As Robert began revising the book again, he focused on our financial assets, health insurances and future college needs. We both recognized the reality that he might not be able to see his children go to college. Robert wanted to let them know that he had planned for them and was going to be there every step of the way even if it was from the other side looking down.

Just as important, he wanted me to know where every single dollar was located, where every detail of death benefits information was kept. I was a working mother, and my focus had been on raising the boys. Robert took care of most financial matters; I had little clue as to where many of our assets were. Robert wanted to make sure that, in the event of his death, I would know where to find this information. The night before he had surgery, he presented me with an updated Survivor Guide™. In the front Robert placed a hand written note that read:

Dearest Elaine,

As the eternal optimist, I look forward to a long and productive life with you by my side. However, the realist in me says a departure from this earth is inevitable, and unfortunately, sometimes occurs before we plan. In such a circumstance, I would be remiss had I not prepared. I would not want your memories of me clouded by the frustration and stress of a financial or administrative mess I might leave behind. I love you and the boys too much not to be prepared. I plan on beating this thing, but just in case.

My Love Always,

I am happy and thankful to say that Robert fought hard and today is cancer free. Over the years the product known now as The Survivor Guide™ has been expanded and refined to what you see before you. It is my sincerest hope that this guide will provide you and your loved ones the comfort and peace of mind it has to me over the years.

Elaine C. Fisher