That Boy Scout Motto…
You know, Be Prepared. You’re going to think Simon and I are a little weird and morbid, but every year on our wedding anniversary we talk about death. Do we dwell on it? No. Do we talk about it for more than about 20 minutes? Nope. But knowing Simon has a heart condition and knowing that I’m a detailed planner, it only seems natural (for us) to discuss the “what-ifs”. And we always take a trip for our anniversary, so we have plenty of kid-free time to have fun yet incorporate this talk. We even spend about a minute discussing who we would want the other to remarry. But read that again before you think we’re adulterers- one minute. Then we move on with our life, our health. and our love for each other.
This is a rant on preparation. I told you it was coming. I especially want the young, healthy whippersnappers to listen up. This is your big chance to realize you’re not immortal and you could make some small changes now that could secure your future family’s well being if something unforeseen happens. This is not a comprehensive list, but it’s what we have found to be helpful and practical for our scenario.
1. Life Insurance
Buy term life insurance. The more assets and dependents you have, the more you will need. Call your current insurance agent or ask friends for a referral. My dad nagged Simon and I to each get policies when we had our first son. I thought it was just ridiculous having someone in our home weighing us, poking us, and making us sign tons of medical records release forms. Main point: I won’t be rich but I won’t be homeless if Simon leaves us to go party in heaven. And stay-at-home parents: even though you may not work, you need life insurance, too. If you die, the other parent will need to secure childcare and schooling for those precious babies. I know this isn’t fun to think or talk about, but DO IT ANYWAY. The younger and healthier you are, the less this will cost you financially.
2. A Will
I couldn’t tell you why we both felt an overwhelming urge to have a Will drafted last year. We spoke with a local lawyer and he helped us create a simple Will with medical wishes, asset allocation, and caregiver instructions for the children. If something were to suddenly happen to both of us, we have our wishes spelled out legally. We personally know more than one family who faced tragedy and then had horrible legal issues with custody and assets. Tragedy, death, and grieving are awful enough. I can’t imagine compounding that with any more drama. And a Will is only a start. If you own a home or property, you need to take it to the next level with a Living Trust. But just start with the Will to make me happy.
3. Secret Stuff
Sharing your passwords, financial information, and other secret stuff is a general no-no. But you need to share it with someone you trust. A spouse, a parent, a sibling, a close friend etc. Do you want the government to have your money and assets? Probably not. Make sure you have beneficiaries named for any accounts you have – checking, savings, retirement, investments. Let that beneficiary or other trusted person know where your money is held and what debts you have. Tell them where they can locate your social security card and birth certificate. Don’t have copies of those? Get copies. If you die or become disabled, your friends and family will be emotional enough. Do you really want them to also deal with a hot mess of a paper trail because you were ill-prepared?
4. Keep Working
When you die or become permanently disabled in this country, your spouse, dependents, or named beneficiary (parents, siblings, etc) can receive benefits and your retirement. But this is factored on how long you have worked and how much you made. You don’t need to be a gazillionaire or work 100 hours a week. But choosing not to work specifically because you just don’t feel like it is irresponsible towards the ones you love. If you don’t work for other reasons, like child rearing or being a student, refer back to #1. This will help your family tremendously.
5. Your Final Wishes
This is the most unfun of them all, so start this one when you’re still healthy, if possible. We’re dealing with this now and it’s rough. But it’s important and it matters. When Simon leaves us, whether it be soon or many years from now, we want to make sure we honor and respect his preferences. We have talked about final resting place, the style of the service, pallbearers, and more. I KNOW. This. is. hard. stuff. to. talk. about. I hate it. It makes me cry, dry heave, and cry some more. *dry heaves*
Sorry if this post was mean or boring. Actually, I’m not sorry. It has to be talked about. Grieving stinks – it can take so much energy and focus. Make the other stuff easy for the ones you love so they can pour their hearts into happy thoughts and warm memories.
P.S. Jesus. Yep, I said it again. As Christians, we believe in heaven and life after death. Sounds strange but it’s spelled out in the Bible. That’s why we’re filled with hope, even in the face of loss. It’s a lot to wrap your mind around so pick up that Bible or going to a local church to get started. It’s equally important to Simon and I that we make it clear to ya’ll that we have faith in the big picture and in God’s plan for all this. Do we wish none of it was happening? Of course – we’re human. But it IS happening. And God is making it clear He is in control and He has the ultimate preparations taken care of.
Here’s a pic of us from our first anniversary in 2005.