Interview Questions

Bio:    Joyce is the author and creator of the book we’re going to talk about today, All They’ll Need to Know and owner of   She’s also the owner of Emerson Publications.    She’s the family preparedness expert for and host of the Prepared In Every Way Show on the Preparedness Radio Network.  She’s a contributor to the Chicken Soup for the Soul series and in 2010, after 30 years of working on writing about her own trials,  published her first novel, Saving Nikki.   More information on that novel can be found at

Joyce loves to talk to people about the importance of being prepared in all areas of life. Preparedness is not just about food storage or moving toward living off the grid.   What Joyce has to share with us today is something that you don’t hear from too many others and yet it is something that can simplify your life and give you a great sense of peace.

Welcome, Joyce!

I’ve been reviewing your book, and … (your comments)

1.  What was the process in creating All They’ll Need to Know?

  • Reading about another woman’s story
  • Deciding I needed to do it for myself
  • Went through my filing cabinet with a spiral notebook and recorded info
  • Waited a few days to clear my head and went back to look at it with new eyes
  • Transferred it to an Excel spreadsheet
  • Sharing what I’d done with friends and family
  • Realizing no one else had thought to do it
  • Deciding maybe I had something that could help others
  • Took that spreadsheet and created the format for others to just simply fill in the blanks

2.  So it was quite a process.

  • And that’s what makes it so great for the user now.  I’ve got the work all laid out for the user and all they have to do is pull information out of their heads, or locate documents, and fill in the blanks.
  • Those who handle the paperwork in their homes have so much stored in their heads.  Something that might be so simple for you to answer might take a lot of effort for your wife to figure out.  What this does is help the survivor find the answers they’ll need when you’re not there.

3.  But you’ve also found other uses for the book recently.  Tell us about that.

  • IN 2008 my daughter’s beach house was destroyed during Hurricane Ike.  It actually disappeared into the Gulf!  It was several weeks before we could go to the site to even evaluate the loss, but we had to prove ownership to get into the area.
  • So it’s not only great at time of death, but an invaluable tool for your 72 hour kits.
  • Also great for just looking up information to fill out loan papers.
  • Lots of uses.

4.  This is a download?

  • Yes.  It’s immediate.  The digital version can be opened in MS Word and typed directly into.  This makes it nice for you to not only have a legible copy, but makes it great for revising, and also saving to your computer, your flash drive, or a CD.   Since you want a responsible member of your family to have a copy, this is an easy way to do it.

5.  So once we download the book, what do we do with it?

  • Review it.  Go through the whole thing and see what you’re going to need to fill in the blanks.
  • Go through it again and start writing down anything you have stored in your head.
  • I want to emphasize that ANYTHING you write down is better than NOTHING.  A short pencil is better than a long memory.
  • You don’t have to do this in one sitting, but once you get started, hopefully it will be something you feel anxious about completing.
  • Start going through your filing system – hopefully you have one – if not, go through your house and find what you need.
  • Find a 3 ring binder, punch holes in the pages, and start your book.
  • I like adding page protectors to my book, too, and when I locate the documents, I slip them right in the book.  This makes it so much easier on everyone because you don’t have to go looking for the actual documents.
  • I’ve even taken mine a step further and scanned all of my documents to a flash drive, and have even uploaded them so that I have access to them on any computer.

4.  Sounds like you’ve covered all the bases!  What’s next?

  • Be sure to tell someone you’re working on this.  It won’t have value if no one knows about it.
  • Store it in a safe place.  I recommend a fireproof safe at home instead of a safe deposit box at the bank.  For one thing, you want access 24/7.   Also, digital information can be affected inside that safe deposit box.  It’s okay to keep a paper copy at the bank, but be sure to store it in a ziploc bag or something waterproof.   During a tropical storm in Houston, my safe deposit box was in the tunnels under the city, and all of them filled up with water.  I didn’t lose anything, but one man made the news when his valuable baseball card collection was ruined.   No matter where you live, store it in something to protect it from water.   In case of fire, those sprinklers go off to keep the contents from burning, but they may get wet.
  • And mark your calendar to review the information at least once a year.  Tax season is a good time because you’re working with receipts and bank information already.  Make sure your beneficiaries are who you want them to be, and make sure bank account and credit card information is current.

5.   This book is only 32 pages long, and very concise.  Let’s go through each page and talk about why the information for that topic is important.

Refer to book and go through each page.

6.   If there’s one message you want to share with our listeners, what would it be?

  • DO SOMETHING!    Like I said before, write down what you DO know.  Expand on that.  Take the baby steps and keep going.  Hopefully you will never have to evacuate but we do know for sure that each one of us is going to die.
  • I have had the experience of burying both parents and my grandparents.  My father died at 51 and had made NO preparation for death.  A kind uncle sold the family a lot to bury him.   My grandparents had everything paid for, and I remember taking my grandfather’s information with me to the funeral home.  He had already put me on his checking account so I could pay the $500 to open the grave.  That was the only expense.   He had a living trust set up for my sister and me.  There was nothing for us to do.

7.  What can being prepared for these situations do for you?

  • I remember how overcome with grief I was when my father died.  It was a sudden heart attack with no warning.  While my grandfather was my best friend in the world, he lived to be 89 years old, and I was able to spend the time grieving instead of stressing.  I wasn’t ready to let him go, but not having to worry about how to bury him or how to come up with the money to do so certainly freed me to gather my family around me and celebrate his life.

8.  Who really needs this book?

  • Everyone, and it doesn’t matter what age.  We’ve had young friends die in their sleep.  We knew a young family who died in a car crash, leaving only their teenage son.  Whether you’re single, married, young or old, you need to let someone know what you have and what you want.
  • It’s one thing to fill it out for your family, but sometimes it’s tough to get the information out of your parents.  I know my own mother was a bit guarded because she was terrified of someone cleaning out her bank accounts.  She lived with me the last 7 years of her life and she did add me to her accounts but she checked her statements every month.  I give her credit for that because there are people who will take advantage of others.  That’s why it is SO IMPORTANT to make sure you only share this information with someone you trust completely.

9.  The book has really evolved over the years without even changing, hasn’t it?

  • Yes, it has.  And I have updated it from time to time.  That’s nice about a digital product.  I’ve added spaces for access codes and pin numbers that weren’t even an issue back in 1989 when I first published the book.
  • It’s nice to see that the purposes for the book have evolved, too.  It’s not just about dying, which is a topic that people don’t want to think about.  It’s about being PREPARED for anything in life.

10.  Any final thoughts or message for our listeners?

  • Preparedness is a hot topic right now.
  • There are a lot of people out there wanting to sell you a lot of stuff.
  • I offer this tool to help you go through the process of recording information and simplifying your life, but if you think you can do it on your own, go for it.  I know my book brings up topics that maybe others haven’t thought about.  I think it’s a valuable resource for every person, every family, but whether you use it or not, DO SOMETHING.
  • I also want to let your listeners know that I have clients who have ordered copies for their clients.  We have customized the cover to include the firm’s name and contact information.  This not only allows the financial planner to hand the new client something to complete and bring back before they get to work on the best plan for them, but in the event of death, the survivor knows just who to contact; just who their parent has been working with.  It’s really a valuable resource in many ways.  So, if you are someone or you know someone who may be able to use this with their clients or groups, contact me.  You’ll find my info on the website.

IF we have time, you can ask about what other ideas I have on preparedness, things that are already on my website.  I love to talk about simplifying and using my sun oven.