Sunday, September 30, 2012

PSA - The Death File

Usually I try to make my blog a happy little corner of the web.  I put in stories that are (hopefully) amusing and thoughts and recipes that are (hopefully) inspiring and instructive. Today's post is breaking the mold. 

Recently I got a phone call informing me that a dear friend's husband had died. It was quite unexpected,  shocking in it's suddenness. My friend, who I'll call Grace, woke up in her normal life and went to sleep with an entirely different life. 

I talked to Grace for almost an hour. She told about the numb shock of the first few days. How for 10 days she threw up everything she ate. How she didn't sleep at all for three days until she realized it was the empty bed that kept her awake. When she had her helpers move it out to the shed and bring the guest bed into her bedroom, she could sleep a bit. With the aid of sleeping pills.

And she talked about the financial chaos her husband had left behind. Her husband, who I'll call Peter, was a big thinker, a planner, making fortunes on big deals, or sometimes losing them when the deal went bust. He was good at vision, at seeing the big picture. What he wasn't good at was details. 

In scouring the house, trying to find the financial records to assess where she stood, Grace found some interesting things. In one bin she found a month old bill. Unopened. In a seed catalog she found, being used as a bookmark, an uncashed check for $900. From 2004. The record keeping was spotty and the finances were in total disarray. She is working her way through stacks of papers she gleaned from around the house, trying to piece together an accurate picture of his business dealings and figure out how long she can stay in her house.

Many years ago on a radio program I heard a brilliant idea that my husband adopted. It's called The Death File. In it he keeps all the information I'll need in the unlikely even of his untimely demise. Bank account names, numbers, passwords, life insurance policies as well as contact information for the insurance agent, names and numbers of anyone pertinent plus any hidey holes in which he might have cash stored. Everything. This file should be updated once a year and hopefully never, ever needed. But if it is needed, what a lifesaver.

Nothing can ever replace a loved one, but if you are the one in charge of finances, you can make sure that the loved one left behind doesn't have to bear the added stress of financial turmoil in addition to their grief.


bellini said...

Not something we wish for but definitely a good idea.

Emskyrooney said...

So sorry for your friend's loss. We, too, have a "death file." Both my mother and my mother-in-law would have NO idea where to even begin if something happened to our fathers and my husband doesn't want me to potentially be in that situation. We got my parents to start one as well- so important!

Brooke (Crackers on the Couch) said...

This is a really good idea. I should make one for my husband. I'm sorry to hear of your friend's loss.

Shoes said...

So sad.

The death file is a very good idea, one my husband and I should talk about because you just don't know.

Kristen said...

I have a friend who just had the same experience. So sad.

As morbid as it seems, a death file is a great idea. Thanks for the psa

Anonymous said...

I am so sorry to hear about Grace's struggles and the pain it also brings to you.

I can't even begin to imagine how deep that grief would go...

May the Lord give you wisdom and strength as you minister to your friend.