As a new widow, I get looks from people who seem like they really want to ask me questions about my experience, but they don’t quite know how to do it. I mean really, what would they say? So I decided that I would write about things that I have learned or things that I think might be beneficial to others. So here goes.
When my husband got sick it was a surprise, to say the least. Being what we considered “young” we were caught unprepared. We had planned to live a good long time together, but suddenly that seemed to be something the Lord had different ideas about. Luckily for me and my kids we had time to prepare, not everyone gets that luxury. From my experience here are four tasks that I would recommend all couples do while you are well. They are not things that many find fun to do. No one wants to be reminded of our mortality, and I think that is why we put them off. But as you read this, think about what it would be like to do them when death is staring you in the face. Trust me they are better completed when everyone is well.
- Make a will. For us this was something very strange and unfamiliar. Who thinks of these things when you are 36? But when the unexpected occurs is when it will be needed the most. Most wills can be very simple. I don’t know many people who have grand estates that need a lot of attention to where lands and monies go. The important thing is just to get it on paper. There are many will programs out there that are inexpensive and easy to do.
- Have a living will. This one is even easier than the estate will. Most of the time if you tell your spouse or parents what your expectations are, that will be sufficient. Every time we went to the hospital they gave us a sheet to fill out with our expectations concerning his living will. A simple sheet of paper that they kept on file, but you have to talk about it first.
- Know where your assets are. Are you the one who takes care of the finances? If you are great, just make sure you know about all the accounts in both of your names. If you don’t take care of the money sit down with who does and learn the ropes. If you can, get EVERY account and asset in both names. This will make probate unnecessary. I do mean every account and asset: cable, water, power, car, trash, the works, this will lessen your paperwork greatly! Have a discussion about future money plans. What do you expect to do for your retirement and how do you get there? If you had money to invest where would you put it? This will be very comforting if you end up having to make these decisions on your own.
- Buy life insurance. Do I have to say more? Sure, you might never need it, but you never know do you?
These are just some practical things that came to mind. Most of you will never need to put this advice into practice, but having a plan might put your mind at ease. Don’t be afraid to talk to your sweetheart about your hopes and fears, they are your greatest support and comfort. Never take that for granted.