Read of the Week

Your life in a nutshell

Nicky Stein-Aginsky


Review: Chantel Erfort

I’m terrible at admin and I can’t even count the number of times hubby has reminded me that we need to put together our “black file” containing all our legal documentation.

Nicky Stein-Aginsky clearly is nothing like me. In this self-published handbook, she has created a space for you to document all the details of your life that will be essential to know should anything happen to you.

“This booklet is intended for those of us who are not mindful of the many day-to-day mundane events that surround us and we take for granted,” she writes in the introduction.

Some of the lists remind me of a document a friend gave me when I went to stay at his holiday home, detailing where to find stopcocks, geyser switches, spare keys, alarm codes and how to top up the pre-paid electricity meter.

Take a moment to think about all the little details someone would need if they were, for some reason, required to take over your life. It’s for the documentation of this kind of minutiae that this handbook was created, and the writer notes that after both her parents died, “I was suddenly aware of how little I knew of their everyday concerns, financial affairs and more importantly, where their documents were stored.”

Having gone through Stein-Aginsky’s book, I shudder to think what would happen if something happened to either myself or hubby. Neither of us would know where to start in our efforts to unravel each other’s admin.

In this book there’s a space for you to jot down important phone numbers, as well as details relating to household issues, recurring payments, medical matters, personal information, vehicle details, what to do in an emergency, financial affairs, fixed property, business, and children.

Account numbers, phone numbers, details of children’s extramural activities, allergies, doctors, your car’s VIN number – and much more. There’s a space for all of that in this book.

And therein lies my concern. While I can see the value in having all this kind of information in one place, I also see the danger. So, it will have to be stored in a very safe space. I was also glad to see that in the section on passwords and PINs, she urges the user not to list these in the book, but rather to ensure that someone knows where to find them.

Even though I’m not sure I’ll document all my personal information in this book, going through it has given me tremendous insight into the many little bits of information that someone else will need to know if anything happens to me.

For more information, or to buy a copy of the book, contact the author at