Widowhood: Preparation Guide
Posted by RycePapers | Filed under RycePapers
At age 50 I became a widow. For me it was the ultimate mid-life crisis. Here are a few of the realities I faced. As someone said, every grief contains a gift so here is mine to you.
We were lucky because we had prepared a financial plan. This meant my husband Michael possessed disability insurance. It gave us about 69% of his salary. I couldn’t work as I needed to care for him, but because I always kept a spending plan, I knew where we could trim and what our fixed costs amounted to. I became Vice-President in charge of nearly everything.
While I went through all the emotional upheaval and discombobulating thoughts that come with having your life shattered, I did not have to face financial upheaval at the same time. Plan for the worst and hope for the best meant in our case, the worst. However, it could have been much, much worse without our preparation and knowledge.
We were fortunate to have time to check our decisions. We’d already arranged joint tenancy for our house, and wills, and money through insurance for his four adult children. We only needed to check that all was in order. That is very different from starting from scratch during what can only be described as emotional Armageddon. Adding financial stress during a health crisis is crushing. If I felt any blessing, it was that we were financially prepared.
If you discover you have a major health issue, buying insurance is no longer an option. You must have insurance in place before you need it. If I sound like a Girl Scout, I am. The time to put food in the pantry for the winter is when there is plenty of it and the weather is fine. When the sleet is flying in your eyes you will be hard pressed to survive. Winter will arrive, sometimes without warning, in your life and you will need to keep existing during tumultuous, and potentially lean, times.
We had protection and documentation and our taxes were up to date. We had 13 months from diagnosis to death so were able to make some last minute adjustments. Not everyone gets that luxury. I know two women whose husbands died from heart failure and they had no time to prepare.
If you believe it is too difficult to think about your will or insurance now, then imagine your partner is desperately sick, or has died. Your emotions will be too frazzled to deal with the intricacies of guardianship, selling of assets, filing tax returns, financial research, distribution of assets, health care, sustaining survivors’ existence (including your own) or many other matters. Your heart has just been broken and the world seems meaningless. Who gives a f**k. Well, I can tell you the phone, hydro, car insurance and bank will all still care deeply about your obligations. Life goes on. Their world has not been crushed, just yours.
Our investment portfolio still needed to be reviewed and, again, I feel so lucky I knew enough about our assets. Trying to learn about ETFs or GICs or any other alphabet product while in the midst of a health crisis or death, as my contractor Ron used to say, ‘just ain’t gonna happen.’ Your priorities are elsewhere. Learn the basics of what you own NOW.
Becoming an adult requires you put on your big girl or big boy pants to keep the crap from running down your leg. That means getting:
- A will
- Knowledge about your assets
- Powers of Attorney
- A discussion about life should health disaster or death arrive
- A financial blueprint for the happy life you are planning for.
Whether single or part of a large clan, these are must haves. Do them now while the sun is shining and the benefit is you can then put them out of your mind and enjoy your great big beautiful life.
That is what’s on my mind today, what do you think?