What you need to know if a loved one dies?

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by ctmom05, Jan 22, 2009.

  1. ctmom05

    ctmom05 Member

    In connecting with the concept of an unexpected death thru Linda's(Timerlady)post most recently, and others in the past, it has occured to me that I should be better prepared than I am.

    What do I mean by that?......

    Should something happen to me or my husband the one left behind would have so much to deal with. The emotional fallout is difficult enough, and then....there are all sorts of details that you don't often think of until you have to and are least able to.

    Between what happened to Linda and a coworker who also lost her husband unexpectedly this week, it is sinking in that I should keep a notebook that would be helpful to my husband should I die or become incapacitated; things that aren't in a will. We can also prepare one for me to be completely familiar with his information.

    This should include things like employer contact info, insurance policy numbers and contact info(life, home, auto, health), doctor's names and phone numbers, medications, the family lawyer's info, bank/retirement accounts; probably a whole host of other things.

    If you've been thru a loved one becoming seriously ill suddenly or passing away - what pieces of information do you think should be in that notebook?
  2. hearts and roses

    hearts and roses Mind Reader

    Well, Chris, as much as your post freaked me out a little bit, it really brought to light a very sensible approach to dealing with death, unexpected or not.

    I think listing out all those things you said already are a perfect place to begin. I would also list out my personal wishes in regard to artificial life support, feeding tubes and the like. Perhaps even have that section notarized to have more legal standing, unless one already has a living will, etc.

    When my sister and I recently had my Mom sign her living will, etc., one of the lawyers said something that really woke me up. Even our children 18 and over should have something like this in place. We don't think of it because they are still so young, but if they are over 18, even as their parents, we will have little say in the case of sustaining their lives through artificial means should the need arise.

    You've lit a fire under my bottom - I'm going to get on this. Did you know that in the State of CT you can contact the Secretary of State office and they will send you a Living Will "kit"? I have one; I'm going to get 3 more, one for each of us. Not sure about other states.

    I am looking forward to others' responses and advice on this.
  3. Star*

    Star* call 911........call 911

    CTmom - this is an excellent post. I wonder if anyone here works for a funeral home or hospice that can shed some light on this.

    My Pop made no provisions for my Mother when he passed. It was unexpected and quick. Her recovery emotionally and financially has not been.

    I do know that recently my Mom had to have 2 people sign a card for the safe deposit box at the bank. Recent audits now require a first and second person.

    I know she has a will - I dont' want to know a thing on it.

    I know that she has put my original birthcertificate (before adoption) in it despite my protest -just in case I want to know who I WAS. ugh.

    I think a notebook is a great idea with insurance information, lawyer contacts, THE BOARD - friends, etc.

    I know that DNR and living wills vary from state to state. I have not done mine but our hospitals here will give you the forms free of charge.
  4. Shari

    Shari IsItFridayYet?

    Flylady.com talks about this. She calls it a master plan or command book or something like that. It includes details of the day to day routine, too; A list of all the families bills, who takes care of paying them and on what day they get paid, when you refill prescriptions, routines you go thru to get your kids to school/bed/soccer etc, basically the highlights of your daily routine that make it all work. Her point of the book was that even if you were laid up sick, you can give your mom the book and things can flow as seamlessly as possible. It was food for thought for me. Even tho I'm not a flylady groupie, I've learned a lot from her website.
  5. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Good idea, Chris.

    Interesting, Shari. I will check it out.

    We have had our will and trust and medical directive all professionally done.
    If one of us dies, the other is next in line to take over. Everything is notarized.
    If we both go (gulp) the $ goes into a trust and the kids go to our first choice in the will.
    We even had the dogs in the will, first, second and third choice as to who gets them.

    It never occurred to me to write down instructions for day-to-day activities. Excellent idea.

    I do have an address book in the kitchen that we use for everything--personal and business--and that is where most info would be found.

    husband has instructions at his clinic that if he dies, the clinic will be immediately sold to his partner (assuming he wants it). Actually, he's not a partner, he's a contractor. But they lawyers could figure it all out.
    His office mgr has all the info and explicit instructions as what to do.

    But home ... that's another thing. I will bring it up at dinner tonight.
  6. pepperidge

    pepperidge New Member

    We have something we read about called a death notebook. You have tabs or the various things, wills, insurance, a copy of a bank statement from each account you have, copy of money market or the like if you have investments, any instructions you have regarding funerals,...copies of documents like birth certificates, info about where you keep children's birth certificates. friends you would want notified in the event of your death

    the hard part is keeping it up to date.

    I think we need to include a section on children--what medications they are on, who their doctors are, etc.

    This should all be a piece of cake for us, right,, since we have all these great up to date parent notebooks on our children?!
  7. everywoman

    everywoman Active Member

    My dear sweet grandmother, the woman that I model my life after, was prepared for her death. She had everything in place, talked to everyone about what was in place. She had even paid for the funeral and made arrangements with the funeral home by picking out her casket and all the other things she needed to do. She spoke to the minister, made him a note about the songs she wanted sang and the scriptures she wanted read. She spoke to the lawyer, made her will, and even left some money to the nurses who came into to help her the last few months of her life. She told the dr. that no dramatic attempts could be made. She left this world on her terms. She died peacefully at home. She made it so easy for us to deal with her passing and just greive the loss and not have to deal with all the petty things that come along with death.
  8. hearts and roses

    hearts and roses Mind Reader

    I was wrong - check with your state's attorney's office.
  9. totoro

    totoro Mom? What's a GFG?

    We need to update our info, due to moving and now that my Father is in the picture.
    I like having every thing in place. Just so in case husband and I were to both die, say in a car crash, this would insure both Grandparents would get visitation. It would make sure who got custody.
  10. Marcie Mac

    Marcie Mac Just Plain Ole Tired

    The first time SO had gotten so ill, and was on life support I was abruptly made aware that as far as discussing any medical issues, how he really was, what needed to be done, I was not considered to be anything cept the "girlfriend". The doctors and nurses would only speak to his mother, who in turn would call me crying, saying she didn't know what to do, or what to authorize, and would I help. At that time, never being around anyone that had more than the flue, I had no clue to any of this.

    He has whats called an Advanced Care Directive now, which gives me Medical Power of Attorney, which is on file with the hospital and a copy kept in the truck. It also has provisions for organ donation - My drivers license has a mark that would let them know I have authorized organ donation - its filed with the State- SO had a problem with that part of it - he doesn't believe in it - not for any moral reasons, but only the fact what if he is not really dead. There was a case here of a young man who was in a coma, declared brain dead, and came to in the operating room when they were going to harvest and that only reinforced his belief.

    I have an Advance Directive for myself that isn't all the way filled out - He is first on mine to make any medical decisions, but I don't have a back up person- both boys have already told me they will refuse to "pull the plug" if it comes to that - they do not want to be burdened with that decision..sigh..

    I have a folder in my office for Jamie - It has all of the life insurance information, medical insurance information and one other thing - PASSWORDS to all of my on-line accounts. Will isn't done yet - I have one hand written out - I am planning to put the house in the name of a Living Trust first, with me as Primary Trustee and Jamie next. He is the only one that would do the right thing -I wouldn't trust the Eldest as far as I could throw her, and as far as difficult child he has always resided in the land of bad decision making.

  11. eekysign

    eekysign New Member

    I second everything said above---HAVE a living will, and let your loved ones know what it says---ALL your loved ones. Also have an attorney-reviewed will. A messed up will is the cause of 99.9999% of all family falling-outs! Know who your kids will go to (I'm currently getting my sister, if something happens to my mom...eek!), and your pets. Let everyone know exactly what's in your will---they may not want to hear it, but many witnesses make fewer will-contests from disgruntled relatives.

    But it's the little stuff that you would forget about, that when someone close to you dies, becomes suddenly REALLY important. When you start having to ask everyone in the family, do you think they'd want to be buried or cremated or shot to the moon (hehe)? Open-casket or closed? Memorials to what charity? Religious service or not? Where would they want to be buried/spread to the earth?

    It might seem sort of morbid to discuss funeral arrangements ahead of time, but sometimes you don't get the chance to, later. Those types of details become so personally significant when someone dies, and without a plan, you never really feel like you know if you "got it right". Even if the deceased wouldn't care if you "got it wrong", it gives YOU peace of mind.

    Oh, and because we all have difficult children...if you're going to have money going to the kids, look up the concept of a "spendthrift" trust, and see if that is something your lawyer/state would advise/allow.
  12. ctmom05

    ctmom05 Member

    Part of what I was thinking about are the things that at the time you scramble to remember or find.

    Five years ago I had a heart attack while I was at home between my morning and afternoon run(I am a special transportation van aide). Did I had it written down - no.

    Or, if my husband was to decease, how would I identify his benefits, so that I could come up with expense money? It would be a lot simpler if all the basic info was clearly labelled and written down in one easy to find notebook.

    There are the longer range items to, but I was also thinking of what happens as the emergency is mushrooming.
  13. gcvmom

    gcvmom Here we go again!

    This is a great suggestion. Since I am the one who manages our bills, finances, taxes, medical, etc., I am the only one who knows account locations, passwords, etc. husband would be UP A CREEK if I keeled over!

    So I've started a file listing accounts passwords, ect., to keep on a disc for him in the event of my death. Whether I tell him about it or update depends on how well he behaves! :rofl:
  14. timer lady

    timer lady Queen of Hearts

    Get an advanced directive & make sure your family knows where it is & what it contains. There are decisions on when & if it is time to let a person go....organ donation comes to mind. Then there is the funeral home, burial or cremation. These are all things that should be discussed, documented & filed with the advance directives & will.

    I have filled out my advanced directive, but because husband is deceased I must appoint a medical power of attorney. I expect one of my sisters at this point. Saying that, you can also appoint a medical power of attorney to insure that your advance directives are followed. That person would be in contact with the medical personnel & make medical decisions when you cannot speak for yourself.

    At home, I'm digging through paperwork; you need to order enough death certificates to ensure you can file for any life insurance, close bank & credit card accounts, take the deceased's name off insurance policies, cars, I ended up ordering an even dozen certified death certificates & may have to order more as many institutions do no accept copies. You have to notify social security.

    Passwords ~ I'm going nuts trying to "crack" into husband's computers. If the system goes down I have no clue what we're going to do. husband didn't share passwords (I asked many times) to any of his online accounts that I'd like to close; heck to his computers.

    Medical dental insurance is a concern & you should know where you stand if your loved one carries the health insurance.

    Be prepared to spend between 10 & 15 thousand (on average) for the funeral with all it's details. There are things I didn't realize - the cost of death certificates; the cremation certificate I need if I were to transport husband's cremains. I have the final service bill from the funeral home in front of me & it's staggering what is involved. The funeral home helped me with things I would not have considered.

    Magazine subscriptions. An extra key for any bank box or postal box.

    Final paychecks; any PTO. A contact person in HR is extremely helpful to have in your address book.

    If at all possible contact with a financial planner & a lawyer for estate concerns.

    A list of friends & co-workers to be notified.

    That's off the top of my head after the last 2 weeks. There's likely much that I'm missing. I expect the bereavement service that husband's employer is sending in to meet with me with think of things I'd never considered.
  15. gcvmom

    gcvmom Here we go again!

    Linda, thank you for sharing those important points. I'm going to make note of all those things. Neither husband nor I have a will, let alone advance directive. You'd think we would have after going through his brain surgery last year!
  16. KTMom91

    KTMom91 Well-Known Member

    I've been thinking about this as well. Thank you all for your suggestions. I need to get off my hiney and get this accomplished.
  17. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    I have been thinking about this a lot lately. husband doesn't have a will and won't write one. I have one but it is pretty basic.

    Our BIG problem is who to take the children. My parents are not young. It seems unfair to ask them, esp after they took Wiz to live with them. His parents (dad and stepmom) are older than mine, and not in the right mind-frame to raise our kids. His mother is simply unfit to raise guppies. She truly has 1 too many bats in her belfry.

    My brother would take them, but it would be a BAD situation all around. He is VERY rigid in his ideas/plans/etc... And he has very unrealistic expectations, in spite of having a daughter.

    husband's sister only wanted one child. She openly told us not to name her and her husband guardians, because all she wanted was one child.

    I have an aunt and uncle who have kids about Wiz and Jessie's age, but again, they don't want any more kids. They have values that are VERY different from ours, and my kids would be incredibly uncomfortable with them. The kids don't even want to spend a WEEKEND with them.

    That is pretty much it for relatives.

    we are so stumped. If anything happens to both of us in the next couple of years, my parents would problem insist on taking custody. But I worry about her health and how she would handle things (my mom).


  18. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    It's such a tricky subject and it gets trickier as you get older. Nobody wants to think or talk about death and surrounding issues. Although my husband and I have done wills and directives etc. he absolutely refuses to talk about how he wants his death handled. We are not active members of one church so there are lots of choices. He also does not want me to discuss what I prefer to happen when my time is up. Bummer!

    A strange thing to plan is the obit. Because our marriage is a 2nd for each of us there are unknowns that sometimes are included. Of course we know siblings and life since we got together but previous career info and community service/memberships etc. are not clear.

    I've never lost a spouse but I have been Executor for both parents and a sister. It's stressful and nobody needs to have unnecessary worries in the midst of grief. I think my husband will just pass it off to the kids if I go lst. I'm leaving everything prepared to save "whoever" gets the job. DDD
  19. eekysign

    eekysign New Member

    Leave a letter to him with a best friend, or relative. That's how our family handles the hold-outs. Hehe. Two-fold purpose, you get your wishes across (so he doesn't get guilty over never listening to them!), and your hubby gets a letter from you after you're gone. It's always been a great compromise for all of us. It's understandable that some people just can't face death well, so we don't force them to, unless it happens. ;)

    I had forgotten to mention the 80 billion copies of the death certificates, TL, you're absolutely right. Also ditto to a list of people to be notified---with email/phone/etc. You remember mutual friends, but remembering all those people that weren't yours as well is so hard!

    For those that family isn't an option---consider good friends. Until I came of age, Sis was to be with my parent's best friends, who are wonderful people. There's a lot of family, but no good options there---they were never even considered. May seem a little weird, but hey--you CHOOSE your friends, not your family. Generally, they'd probably be a better choice for your kids, too. ;)
  20. hearts and roses

    hearts and roses Mind Reader

    I just want to say thank you so much for posting this CTMom, and thank you to Linda and DDD and the others for sharing your ideas.

    I printed out the living will and directives yesterday and my daughters and I filled them out. On Monday we're having them notarized and I already have a binder to carry the information necessary for an emergency situation. I am so on this! Thanks~