The prospect of losing your spouse may be the hardest thing you’ll ever face. Taking the time to put things in order before he or she passes will give both of you peace of mind. When the time comes, the last thing you need is surprises.
Here are some things to think about, and talk about with your spouse and family members:
Stay on top of the finances
If your spouse has been in charge of your finances, this is the time to find out everything he or she knows about your bank accounts, savings, bills and insurance. Do you know what your income will be? Will it meet your needs, or will you need to make some adjustments? The more you know, the better prepared you will be. Be sure you have detailed information regarding –
- Account numbers
- Insurance policy numbers
- Social Security number
- Passwords and logins for online accounts
- Utility and service providers
Gather all the estate planning documents
Does your spouse have a Will? Do you know where it is and who to contact when he or she passes? What about advance directives? Does your spouse have a living will? Does he or she wish to be kept alive on life support or not? This is the time to get all of your spouse’s estate planning documents in order, and updated if necessary. Here are the basic estate planning documents you need:
- Last Will & Testament
- Durable Power of Attorney
- Healthcare Agent
- Living Will
Discuss funeral arrangements now
Does your spouse wish to be cremated or buried? Do you own a burial plot or will you need to purchase one? Are finances adequate to cover funeral expenses? Does your spouse have a prepaid funeral contract with a funeral home? Knowing these things ahead of time, and making sure you understand your spouse’s final wishes will make it easier for all involved.
Make a phone list
Make a list of important phone numbers. Share the list with a family member, friend or trusted advisor to back you up. When you’re stressed, remembering details like this may be a challenge. The list should include both personal and professional contacts:
- Emergency contacts
- Family members
- Spouse’s employer
- Insurance agent
- Financial advisor
- Tax advisor
Take care of yourself
During such an emotionally wrenching time, be sure to take care of yourself. Talk a walk. Read that book your book club friends are reading. Stay connected with family and friends. Find a support group. Those who have been through this experience understand what you are going through and can help you on your journey.
It won’t be easy to say goodbye, but with a strong support system and the right guidance from professionals, you will be as prepared as possible to face the future on your own.