Even for those not late in life, the idea of losing one’s spouse is horrific. The longer we build our lives together with our spouses, the more our two lives become one, and the idea of not having that other half is unimaginable. Though, we do not want to be caught without a plan, if the unthinkable does happen. This is where pre-planning becomes an imperative.
Plan the estate
First, and foremost, do the estate plan now. Do it while both spouses are of sound mind and body. It is a hard and uncomfortable discussion, but do the planning now. Decide how the couple wants their lineage to live on and how they want to be remembered. Think about funeral and burial arraignments. And, make passing on accounts and assets as easy as possible by ensuring those accounts like making accounts joint or naming spouses as he payable on death beneficiary. Make sure that life insurances pay out to the spouse directly. The more planning that is done now means whoever survives will be able to grieve without the additional burden of figuring out what to do immediately after their spouse dies.
Get expert help
Get expert help now. This could be an estate planning attorney. It could be a tax expert, or even a financial fiduciary. We never know what we do not know, so bringing in an expert now can save a lot of heartbreak later.
Make a list of all bills and accounts
This will be part of the estate plan, but even for those that do not use an expert, make sure there is a full list of all bills and accounts that is periodically updated. This includes not just those accounts that have money, but also all crypto-accounts, social media accounts, etc. It also includes bills, like electric, gas, car, mortgage, etc., including how to access those accounts, and make sure both spouses are authorized users. It may be surprising, but some companies will not let anyone pay a bill if they are not an authorized user.
The key for our Morristown, New Jersey, readers is to plan now. One does not want to scramble to figure out a new life alone without any prior planning and during the hardest time in our lives.