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The result has been a one-of-a-kind online business, one which she hopes, might at the very least start a “what if” conversation for those in the rural sector.
Mother-of-two Paige Wills farms sheep and deer with her husband Richard in the Waitaki Valley.
She recently launched a business called My Peace of Mind; a comprehensive in-case-of-emergency document designed to help people organise all their essential information in case someone experiences an illness, injury or death so their family will have all the important information clearly laid out and all in one place.
Having grown up “just up the road” and then worked overseas as a florist, Mrs Wills moved back to New Zealand in 2008 to farm with her husband and his family. Shortly after, the couple had their first baby, Amelia.
Mrs Wills admitted her tendency to be a “worse-case scenario worrier” went into turbo mode when she had a new baby to look after.
“I used to lie awake at night thinking about all the what ifs and I couldn’t help but fret about what might happen if Richard or I weren’t here.”
This was the catalyst for her to create the first iteration of what is now the Peace of Mind planner; a document that contained all her essential family information.
“And a letter to our daughter in case I wasn’t there to see her grow up.”
Over the course of 11 years the document has become more comprehensive and, as Mrs Wills has taken over more of the day-to-day farming business including all of the bookwork, she realised her planner was something others might see a need for too.
She stressed the planner was not a legal document to replace a will or enduring power of attorney.
“Those documents tell you what needs to happen, but this tells your loved ones the practical details for how to actually do that,” she said.
Before launching the business, Mrs Wills spoke to funeral directors, health professionals, lawyers and families of lost ones which helped flesh out all the sections and she spent months working on the document trying to get it right.
“It became all-consuming. Richard would come out and advise me it was the middle of the night and perhaps I should turn the computer off,” she laughed.
“The thing that I think everyone underestimates is the sheer volume of information that we store in our heads.
‘‘Everything from what’s happening with stock, fertiliser or irrigation, to family and finances. If something serious were to happen — how on earth would someone step in and manage those things without something there to guide them? It’s the practical stuff like your logins and passwords and where important documents or the key for the chemical shed are kept.
“Having a farming business adds so many more layers of complexity than the average person might need.
‘‘Then there’s the stresses that most farmers are coping with at this time of year and compounded even further when they’re the only one who knows how to do the things on their farm.”
The response has been “incredible” and Mrs Wills said she has heard from many who wish their lost loved ones had known to jot down important information they have since had to piece together on their own.
“I talked to a woman who is caring for her farmer husband after a major stroke. He went from being the key organiser for almost every aspect of their home and business to being totally reliant on his wife for his day-to-day care and he cannot communicate with her. She has found it very stressful trying to work out all the different aspects of their farming business and the different companies she needs to deal with.
“I just hope that even if people don’t download the planner, they at least have that all-important conversation with a loved one, which might save a lot of stress down the line.”
- By Alice Scott