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Have You Had the Talk With Your Spouse Yet

For many couples, talking about death is difficult. Nobody likes to think about dying. It's scary to think the person you're growing old with will no longer be around someday.

The other day my husband said, "I can't imagine my life without you. That's why I'm going to die first." Of course, his comment shocked me and I wasn't sure how to respond. Trying to lighten the mood, I said, "No--I need to go first because I know you will be able to re-group a whole lot better than I would." Then, jokingly, I suggested we die together.

That brief conversation got me to do some serious thinking. How would I cope emotionally and financially should my husband pass away before me?

Preparing your finances for your death is a topic many don't want to talk about. Death is inevitable, however, and if you don't take the time to plan, your wishes (and your family's financial security) could be at risk.

Here are some tips I found, which I hope will be as helpful to you as they are to me:

1) Creating a living will and name an executor.

2) Discuss your finances with your spouse and make sure you know account numbers, passwords, billing arrangements and insurance information.

3) Talk about about funeral arrangements and find out if your spouse wants a coffin or prefers cremation.

4) List insurance and medical policy numbers, investment and other financial account numbers, along with passwords, social security information, and login data for websites.

5) Make a rough draft of your monthly budget, factoring in living expenses and income.

Getting your house in order while you're both still alive will save the surviving spouse (and other family members) a lot of frustration and paperwork during the grieving process.


Heidi Caswell said…
Those are very good points Beverly. And don't assume things. We live in a community property state. A friend of mine lost her husband to a sudden stroke. He had a separate bank account for his own spending, his car was in his name only. The assumption was since it is a community property state the wife would have access to all.

Not so. When she contacted the bank, they said they would be glad to help, but needed a death certificate first and marriage license. She provided the documents. Then they told her she now needed to hire an attorney for some complicated legal stuff which had to be done before they could release his money. Nor would they tell her how much was in it. She was thinking the attorney fees were easily more than what he kept in the account, and might not worry about it. Then the bank started harassing her to get the attorney as since they now had proof her husband was dead and that she was the wife, she was required to go through the legal process whether she wanted to or not.
And no, I've not planned either. My husband is like he is going first so just do whatever I want for his, and he won't be going to mine as he hates funerals, so I'd better not die first.
BeverlyM said…
When my father passed away, my mom went through something similar. While they had a joint bank account, my dad also had a private one which was discovered after his death. It was tied up for several months.
Anastacia said…

Another thing to consider has to do with insurance. If you each are the beneficiary to the other's policies, make sure you know who the secondary beneficiary is on each--in case you happen to die together.

And to that end, make sure you know who will take care of you both if that happens.

If you have kids and have named a guardian in case both of you die, make sure the guardian knows where all the appropriate paperwork is and that s/he has access to it immediately so your kids can be appropriately cared for by the person YOU want them cared for.

BeverlyM said…
That's a really good point also. Probably one that's overlooked in the event that both husband and wife pass away at the same time (like in a car accident or house fire).

Thanks for commenting and offering valuable input.
Lynette Benton said…
Since my husband's mother and sister were *both* just diagnosed with the same form of a rare, malignant cancer, he and I are re-doing all of our end-of-life paperwork, and making sure everything is in order.

My memoir-in-progress, My Mother's Money, deals with this very topic. Friends who have been through the 17-year rigmarole about her financial legacy with me now know what *not* to do, and are getting their own paperwork done.

GREAT POST, BEV! Thank you!

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