6 Things To Do Before Your Spouse Dies

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things to do before your spouse dies

6 Things To Do Before Your Spouse Dies


I’ll never forget the day I asked my mother, “Do you know what Dad has planned for you when he dies?” He was seriously ill. She was having a hard time.

“Of course I do,” she replied. But when I pressed her for details, she couldn’t deliver.

But she made it abundantly clear: This was not a conversation she wanted to have. I made it even clearer: Avoidance was not an option. Here’s what we did:

1. We had “The Talk.”

I made my Mom sit down with my Dad and we looked at all the financial documents: bank statements, investments, estate planning, etc. This was not, by any means, an easy conversation. Nerves were frayed. My Mom glazed over. My Dad lost patience. I kept scratching my wrist (a nervous habit) until it bled. But by the end, my Mom knew where every penny was and what arrangements he had (and hadn’t) made.

2. We assembled “The Team.”

My Dad was very much a do-it-yourselfer. Mom needed support. First on our list was to hire an estate lawyer and together with him, my sister and I and my parents, created a very good, tax efficient estate plan. Next, we helped her find an investment advisor and a CPA. Don’t hesitate to interview more than one investment advisor and CPA to find a good fit. My mom met with her team on a regular basis, until she passed 20 years later.

3. We updated documents.

We made sure the Will, Power of Attorney, EVERYTHING reflected their latest info and current wishes.

4. We envisioned a future without Dad.

My mom started thinking about living single: how much money she’d need to live on (a lot); how she wanted her money invested (very conservatively); and who would assist her with this (her team).

5. We had regular family meetings.

These meetings, though often emotional, helped get everyone on the same page while Dad was still alive. These gatherings included my sisters, spouses, all the grandchildren and we eventually had great grandkids crawling around too. My Dad let everyone know his wishes, especially for philanthropy and keeping the family together. These meetings definitely drew us closer.

6. Mom talked to friends.

She had several friends who’d lost their husbands, so she talked to them at length. They gave her great advice which really helped her see life goes on, happiness was possible.

Having done these things, by the time my father died, all my mother had to do was grieve. Every detail was in order. There were no surprises. All papers signed. All major decisions made. Her team was in place. Practically speaking, his passing was seamless. Emotionally, it was tough. But being prepared, made it a little easier.

Depending on your stage in life you may or may not have done these things. We should all consider what happens when our spouse dies, though, because unexpected things do happen. What kind of plans do you have in place for the unexpected or inevitable changes that happen in life? Share HERE.

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