If there is one thing I would want anyone to know after suffering a loss like mine is to be prepared. You are probably wondering what I mean by that. It is simple….have all of your affairs in order. No one ever wants to think about the worse case scenario. When you are young, death never crosses your mind. But PLEASE take this advice and make sure all of your affairs are in order whether you have children or not.
Why? When a loved one passes away you won’t believe how many times you must provide proof of your relationship to the deceased. It doesn’t matter if you have the same last name. It doesn’t matter if you have a ring on your finger. It doesn’t matter if you live in the same house. It doesn’t matter. What matters is legal documentation of your relationship to the deceased. The people who handle everything don’t care what happened. They need and will require you to provide documentation.
What should I have?
1. A Will is the best form of documentation. It is simple to make changes as the years go on, so no excuses….do it!
2. Make sure you are listed on all accounts. I fought with a major retail store over this very fact. I was not on the account and right before Ryan passed away,he was in the process of reporting unauthorized charges on the account. So after he passed away, I began the long task of contacting all our affairs and this particular company would not discuss the account with me. It was hell~last thing you want to deal with during such an emotional time.
3. Make sure you know all the passwords to all online accounts, banks, including work accounts. This may sound extreme but when your loved one is gone, if there are holdings in company stocks or for insurance purposes, you need the passwords to get into the accounts. Make sure you have them written down somewhere and that you know where you can find them. I dug through garbage in Ryan’s office for work related passwords.
4. Make sure you understand ALL financial affairs. Bottom line it doesn’t matter what your role is in the relationship, you need to know where everything is and make sure you are listed on everything. My role, once we had children, was to take care of the house and the kids. Ryan’s role was to provide for us financially. I wrote out all the monthly bills and balanced everything. However he did all the banking and he took care of all of our investments. THIS worked for us. Some disagree with the old fashion way but we had 3 kids under 5…it worked for us. I was informed but with “baby brain” didn’t always pay attention.
5. Life Insurance~it is important!
6. Living Will and your loved one’s wishes. A Living Will states what you want to occur in case you can’t make the decision yourself (life support, measures to be taken, etc.). And as uncomfortable as it is, you need to know what your loved one wants in regards to a funeral and burial. Do they want to be buried? Do they want to be cremated? Do they want an open casket? Do they want anything religious? YES you NEED to discuss this. I promise you, it will help you when the time comes. Did Ryan and I discuss all of this? Most of it we did but the rest I had to make on my own.
7. You will need to provide a Will, Marriage Certificate, and Death Certificate as well as Social Security Numbers for most of your affairs. I suggest having a safety deposit box or a fireproof box in your home with all of this documentation. This will help with receiving any life insurance, inheritance, etc.
8. Many companies will ask you to provide a copy of the death certificate to switch accounts into your name only. For example- you sell a car and your loved one’s name is listed on it, you will need to provide the death certificate as well as your Will stating your are the Executor of the Estate/Power of Attorney in order for the transaction to occur.
The weeks following the death of a loved one are consumed with numerous phone calls to get all affairs in order. You may or may not feel up to it and it may help keep you busy. Unfortunately only you can do it. Emotions will be running high but having everything in order will make it a little less stressful.
No one wants to think about losing a loved one but it is part of life. I never thought at age 36, I would be a widow with 3 children under the age of 6. So make it a goal to get all your affairs in order for your loved ones.