I can’t think of everything, but my readers can.
Not long ago I urged you to leave a financial map to help your children, spouse or best friend fight through the paperwork required to settle your affairs after you slip off to the Great Beyond.
I suggested leaving a detailed list that includes information on bank and brokerage accounts, loans, safe-deposit boxes and investments such as 401(k)s … life insurance info … your will and living will … contact info for your lawyer, accountant, doctors and the HR office at your workplace … location of old tax returns … funeral instructions … passwords to your computer, email accounts, shopping accounts such as Amazon and eBay and for payments that are automatically deducted from your checking account each month.
Those tips were well-received, but a few readers wanted to provide additional advice. And they were toting some good stuff. To wit:
SPELL IT OUT
Bob: Just as a postscript to your wonderful column on giving family the info they need to clean up after we die, here is another idea that may prove to be important.
My husband, Steve, wrote a letter to our son, Colin, telling him our thoughts on pulling the plug should that become necessary.
We have a wonderful, loving relationship with him and neither of us have been jackasses except for all those years when he was a teenager, and he seems to have forgotten about that.
We are in pretty good shape in terms of our health right now, but who knows what may happen in 10 or 20 years. We would never want Colin to agonize about keeping either of us on some artificial method or life-extending machine. We want him to know our wishes and be absolutely sure that he is making the right decision.
He won’t have to try to remember while he is under stress because it will be in writing. We have living wills to deal with the hospitals, but this is just for him.
We are leaving our remains to science or research.
Cherie Morris Shechter
Cherie: Thanks for sharing that information — and for your willingness to contribute to future medical knowledge.
WHOLE NEW ROLE
Bob: The ideas about preparing your younger family members in advance are fine, but I, and possibly you, have also met guys who brag that they have no idea how to wash clothes or cook. That tells me they must be figuring the wife will outlast them.
I also have met wives who talk about the husband handling all the finances, and they aren’t certain how to handle checking accounts.
Those folks are going to be in for a rude awaking when the other spouse passes on first.
Elias: Good point. Even when partners try hard to split the household responsibilities equitably, they often end up handling various tasks almost exclusively. The next reader shares your view and offers additional tips.
Bob: If you don’t mind, I would add just one more paragraph to your column.
Note to husbands: Make sure your wives — whom you might leave widowed — know everything they should about how to write a check, pay the bills, what kind of insurance you have, what to do when mail arrives from the government, social security, etc., and tell her where all of these documents are stored.
Please leave copious notes about how to handle the business side of your marriage, including the person in the offices you have conducted your business with and phone numbers.
I have more widow friends than widowers. We are all in our early to mid 80s, and I am amazed at how many women have NEVER had to deal with the business workings of marriage.
I have witnessed some of my friends close to panic upon being widowed and having to — for the first time — deal with paperwork, even the simple task of writing a check.
So please give the still-living male 80s group a heads-up: Sit your wife down and give her a tutorial — NOW!
Joyce: Yes, the misery should be shared. I’m pretty sure the fact that husbands often handle all that exasperating financial paperwork is the reason men die earlier.
But seriously … marvelous advice.
Bob Dyer can be reached at 330-996-3580 or firstname.lastname@example.org. He also is on Facebook at www.facebook.com/bob.dyer.31