Logistics wise, I am doing a smidge better. Smidge.
I gave up and hired a lawyer, which is something I should have done right from the start. They’re fancy, but I believe they will relieve a lot of stress and help me with my assets – so that’s a good thing. They won’t however, call Verizon for the 3rd time to try and straighten the phone plan out. I thought I had taken care of it last week, but now I have a mystery charge on bill which appears to be for Tim’s phone that I mailed back last week.
(Verizon update: I DARE YOU TO CHARGE ME A LATE FEE. DARE YOU!)
(Verizon update #2: Yeah, that went away pretty quickly.)
With that in mind, here are some tidbits I have collected to help your spouse not want to smash their head against a desk and ruin any small shreds of sanity they have left. Also, I will be filling this meme with puppies, because puppies are helpful in these kind of situations.
Get one. You can do it online for less than $100. Having one of these would have made everything in my life much easier right now.
If you have a shared account or family plan, make sure your spouse is listed as a user who’s authorized to make financial changes to the account. If they are, they may be able to cancel your line and do things without many different calls to customer service.
Did you know that at least with my bank (Chase in Texas), your spouse will not automatically get the contents of your checking or savings account if you get smushed by a bus? What I was told by the banker is that any account with contents under $5,000 will go to the spouse but anything more than this amount will require your spouse to hire an estate lawyer to gain control of the assets. Just because you are married, doesn’t automatically mean they get your money… even if they are the sole heir.
You can set up a beneficiary for your checking and/or savings account very easily. I named my brother and it took less than 5 minutes with a banker at the branch.
Secret Debt Won’t Stay a Secret
You may think, “Oh my bunny wunny doesn’t need to know about this credit card so I’ll just pay it off eventually and never tell them.” WRONG. It’s not fun to be hit by expensive surprises when your grieving spouse is already trying to handle 1,000 other things. Ask me how I know.
Tell Your Spouse Where Important Documents Are
Throwing all “important” papers in an Ikea storage box does not count as filing. Even if you aren’t the most organized person in the world, tell your husband/wife where your tax returns, passport, marriage certificate and social security card all live. Instructions can be as vague as “In that pile of papers in the junk drawer,” but give them something. If you need me I don’t think I actually exist right now because I don’t know where my social security card is (or Tim’s) or my passport’s location (or Tim’s).
Write Account Passwords Down in a Safe Location
You know what doesn’t transfer to a spouse after death? Things like Airline miles & reward points. I may or may not have been able to get something out of those accounts, because I happened to know one of his passwords he often used. Most of the others? I’m clueless. So now I have to do things like scan photo IDs and documents (which I can’t find) so he won’t keep showing up as available on gchat to haunt his family and friends. Even simple things like Netflix add up when you’re trying to reorganize your entire life. Do your spouse a favor and just keep things documented for them.
Think About the Animals
Look, I will care for BT for the rest of her life in the best way I possible can. I’ll do that because I love her, she is my dog too and most importantly Tim loved her. I’m not saying your spouse hates your dog/cat/animal, but some spouses do. Put something in writing to protect your animals so that they don’t end up at the shelter. It happens more than you think.
Have a Non-Morbid But Real Conversation About Your Final Wishes
What people want to have done with their remains is a hugely personal issue. Some religions are strict, but many people aren’t religious these days and someone so young rarely picks out a plot for two in the local cemetery. Give your spouse an idea of what you might like, even if it’s scary or heavy to think about. We had talked about this briefly in the past, and I expressed to him what I wanted but Tim said he didn’t really care. I think that’s because he had a hard time accepting that death is a part of life in general. Anyway, I guessed and did the best I could with these choices after knowing him as well as I did. Luckily, his family respected my wishes and agreed with whatever I choose… but your situation might not be the same. When you’re grieving and you’re leaning towards X issue but his family is pushing for Y wouldn’t it be nice to know what your beloved would have liked?
There are more things that keep coming up, but I will deal with them as I come. I could take fewer life lessons right now, but hopefully this mountain of poop will feel like it’s smaller soon. My husband had a lot of great qualities, but life organization was not one of them.
If you can think of anything I’ve forgotten (and I’m sure I’ve forgotten things) please add in the comments.