A reader asked me to write about the end of life paperwork my husband has been getting together “just in case.” Here are some of the general items we have lined up to make the surviving spouse’s situation a bit easier:
There is a list of names, addresses, and contact numbers. Somebody will need to get in touch with friends and family members, and this is a great way to get started.
There is an Estate Planner page that includes:
• Safe Deposit Box contents
• Bank Account information
• The names of our Attorney, Financial Planner, and key family members (including their relationship to us).
• Organizations we’ve been involved with
• Medical Records, the name of our doctors and clinics, and where they are located
There are Estate Planning Documents such as our Wills, who we’ve designated Power of Attorney, and what our Health Care Directive wishes are.
We are still deciding on funeral arrangements. This can be a huge area of stress for surviving family members, and we want to make it as simple as possible.
So there you have it. All of the above needs to be updated on a regular schedule, and kept safely tucked away. But not so safely that they can’t be found! We have told our children how to access our paperwork in case my husband and I go down together in a plane crash.
As much as I disdain thinking about loss of life issues, I‘ve been around long enough to witness how the lack of planning affects families. Time and again I’ve been stunned to see greed and aggression arrive along with the death of a friend or family member. In each case I would have sworn this or that person would never behave that way…and yet things got ugly fast.
It doesn’t take all that long to write down your wishes and have them legally documented. My husband and I were given guidance by our financial planner, which made the process even easier. In a strange way, it is comforting to take stock of your life. Some people want to make sure their assets are distributed in a certain way, and some people want to make sure they don’t end up next to their now despised third husband in the family plot. Whatever it takes to get the motivation going! Our reasons for tackling this morbid area are personal, but steeped in our desire to keep things simple for those left behind. Isn’t that what love is all about?