Thursday, January 19, 2012

Proactive, Not Reactive

Are you a member of The School of Hard Knocks? Yeah, me too. This blog will be updated on an as I can basis. Grief is funny business; at least it is for me. For every few good hours or even a good day, the grief crashes down and covers me...sleepless nights, lack of appetite, lethargy. I tell you this not for sympathy but to explain why the posts aren't more regular. IOW, most days, I'm doing the best I can. Also, these are my suggestions based upon what has happened to me where I live. For professional advice, consult a professional in the area of need or where you live. Each state differs so check with professionals in your state.

I'm working on putting this information in a more coherent order but for now, it's going to be rather hodge podge. Still good information though, don't despair. 

The purpose of this blog is to be proactive, not reactive; to give information, based upon my experience, on how to prepare for being the spouse left behind. If you're single, you still need to know this information; knowing what I've experienced will save your heirs a boatload of money, emotional energy and their life's quota of bad words -smile-.

Please go to your library and check out some books on finances such as Paul A. Tucci's new book, The Handy Personal Finance Answer Book - Your Smart Reference. It's a good book but not infallible; his section on vehicles isn't correct; at least, it's not correct for where I live. So, read, research and check the facts for your state. Yes, it's a lot of work but trust me, no one cares for you and your family like you care. Financial advisors, bank employees, so many cases, their care is in direct proportion to how much they get paid...if you're lucky. 

Also, based upon private e-mails sent to me, some of my information will be basic but needed. For example; you need to establish credit in your name, separate from your spouse. I cannot stress this have to have credit in your name! More later.

You and your spouse need a will, both of you...especially if you have children. A holographic will is acceptable in Virginia; check if it's acceptable in your state. 

Remember the three-ring notebook? That's where you're going to put important papers...

~ life insurance
~ health insurance
~mortgage/deed papers
~birth certificates
~marriage license
~any divorce papers from a previous marriage
~vehicle titles
~ social security cards
~ medical directives
~ power of attorney, if applicable 

This isn't an inclusive list; what else do you suggest?

Also, on a separate piece of paper, write down

*all bank account information - bank names, checking account numbers, savings account numbers, certificate of deposit numbers

I'm a big fan of the public library so take all the cards in your wallet, photo-copy them and put them in the cards, driver's license, etc.

Are you or your spouse organ donors? You should each know this about the other. If you're single, make sure your Executor or Executrix knows. BTW, an Executor is the name for the male whom you've named to handle your affairs after you're deceased and an Executrix is the name for the female. 

Okay, that's enough for now, certainly enough to get you started. Besides, I'm wiped out and it's time to shut down for the day.


Michelle said...

When we were expecting our child, I pushed and PUSHED my husband to get a will done. A holographic will is not acceptable in Oregon, and without a will, children become wards of the state and family members must fight for custody. If something happened to us, I wanted Brian's future KNOWN and SECURE, at least as much as we could make it so. We finally got a will done before Brian was a year old, which eased my mind greatly.

Whimsey Creations said...

OK, here are some further suggestions for the 3 ring binder (or maybe a second one). Most of what you listed above I have in a fireproof box. But in a three ringer binder I have:
all online frequently visited websites with the url, logon, and password
not only insurance certificates but how much is paid monthly, quarterly, or yearly and if and when it expires
vehicle insurance policies (current year)
home insurance policy (current year)
any contract/certificates such as termite protection, heating and air maintenance coverage, etc.
warranties for anything in the home such as windows, siding, large appliances
if your spouse (or you) pays bills online and your spouse (or you) isn't computer literate, a list of all bills, urls, logons, passwords, and how much is paid per month, etc.
all utility renewal information if you're on a fixed rate or 12 month plan
a list of email addresses of friends who might need to be notified if a spouse (or yourself) passes

And keep your 3 ring binder updated - it's easy to just put a new policy or whatever into it when you get it in the mail. And it only takes an afternoon to go through the book every 6 or 12 months to make sure everything is up to date.

Thanks for this post Sandra - I can only imagine a binder like this would be so helpful in a crisis when you can't think straight.

Pam said...

Thank you for doing this, Sandra. A couple more things come to mind such as contact information for pension plans, 401Ks, annuity information, contact info for financial planner.

Star said...

Thank you very much for that Sandra. I would add another one: If you have bought a plot for burial, you will have details of it somewhere. Put the details in the ring binder too because the funeral home will ask you for it. You won't feel like searching for it when the time comes.

Star said...

ps another thought - you need a list of his/her frequently used website passwords so you can access the data that is mentioned above.