Planning for Death

The title of this post sounds depressing.  That's because it is.  It's also really important.

This week, I finished reading "Mom and Dad, We Need to Talk: How to Have Essential Conversations with Your Parents About Their Finances."  My parents are getting older, and I realized I haven't had the important conversations with them.  I live closest in physical distance, and I'm my mom's only child.  What do they want their end of care to look like should something happen?  Who do they want to be responsible?  I don't know.

For obvious reasons, I felt nervous to talk to them about it.  I decided before I spoke to them that I should really gather the information for myself.  This led to an endless rabbit hole of research centered on "What you need to know when someone dies."

I created a spreadsheet in a Google Doc that both my husband and I can access.  I filled out my side and most of his side.  I gave myself a couple days before roping in my husband.  He had to tell me about 10% from his side, and that was it.  My side?  He would be high and dry if something happened.  I never stopped to think about all the things my husband wouldn't know if something happened to me.  I'm the one who manages the bills and the household, who carries most of the mental load.  I should have done this years ago.  Organizing this for my husband was an act of love.

I was crying when we went over it.  Yes, they were ugly tears.  Who wants to think about the death of their partner?

Going back to my parents... I haven't started talking to them about it yet.  I plan to do it in pieces, and I want to bring it up slowly.  Fortunately, I feel more confident now that I went through it all for myself and understand its importance within my own marriage.

If I Die Young...

Medical Information

  • Doctor
  • Dentist
  • Pharmacy
  • Therapist

  • Birthday
  • Gender
  • Ethnicity
  • Height, Weight
  • Hair color, eye color
  • Allergies
  • Medications & dosages
  • Medical conditions
  • Medical history
  • Emergency Contacts

**Important for emergencies (with the hopes that you'd make it out alive)

End of Life Documents

Upon death - Get multiple copies of the death certificate.  (Recommendation is 10-20.)  Financial institutions and insurance companies will require a copy before you can close, switch, or cancel accounts. You will certainly need a copy before you get any life or burial insurance payouts.  Also, be sure to scan a copy into your computer so you have a digital version. This way you can easily send it in an email for faster service in some instances, or you can print more (unofficial) copies.

  • Will location (if you don't have one, at least look up how your assets would be passed on in the event of your death and note this)
  • Executor
  • Living Trust
  • Power of Attorney
  • Advance Health Care Directive
  • Location of DNR/health care directive

Financial Information

  • Sources of Income
  • Bank Accounts
  • Investment Accounts
  • Credit Cards
  • Household debt
  • Annual Bills (plus month due)
  • Monthly Bills
  • Insurance Policies
  • Assets
  • Financial Professionals
  • Memberships/Activities (anything that would need to be cancelled/notified)

Important Information

  • Social Security Numbers (location)
  • Medicare, Medicaid numbers
  • Drivers License
  • Additional: Voter Registration, Credit Bureaus (Equifax, Transunion)

  • Phone unlock key if applicable
  • Passwords (location of) and usernames for:
    • Bank accounts
    • Subscription services
    • Social Media accounts
    • Photos/Printing
    • Other

Location of...

  • Birth certificates
  • Marriage license
  • Passport
  • Social Security Card
  • Property deeds, appraisals
  • Auto titles
  • Tax returns
  • Keys to safes, lockboxes
  • Valuables (include item, location of and person to give to)

Left Behind...

  • Children (include wishes for care and make sure you have a will.  If you die without a will, your state’s intestacy laws will determine who gets custody of your children. These laws vary from state to state, but usually, the children would go to the grandparents or other relatives. If there are no relatives who can take custody, the children would become wards of the state.)
  • Pets (include wishes for care, vet, medications, food, and feeding schedules)

Celebration of Life

  • Funeral/Cremation Services - I found the address and phone number for the local funeral home
  • Final Wishes
  • List of friends to notify (include phone numbers for ease)
  • List of items for Obituary