I love my wife.
I met Dawn when I was 14. By age 16, I was, to use a word from the old movie Bambi, hopelessly twitterpated. We dated for 4 years, and we have now been married for over 40 years.
I love her, and I would do anything for her.
And I want to do some things for her now that will show my love for her after I’m dead.
I don’t know the future, of course, but there is a good chance that I will die before she does. About 80% of married men will die before their wives. Sadly, I’ve ministered to and helped many widows who were completely unprepared for life after their husband died, especially if he took care of the family finances.
Some of the men, frankly, had done a horrible job of preparing for their wives after their death. They had structured their finances in such a way that much of the family income died when they died. Or they had spent so much of their retirement while they were alive that there was little left when they were gone. Or they had left their finances in such poor shape that even an accountant would have had a hard time putting together a plan.
Other men had done a good job with their finances, but a poor job of communicating details to their wives, so many widows had no clue about their basic financial issues. How much was still owed (if anything) on the house? Was there any life insurance, and, if so, how much? Where did he keep the copies of paperwork such as wills, life insurance paperwork, and paid–and unpaid–bills? How much money was in checking, savings, investments, and retirement accounts? How were those accounts accessed? How were the pensions set-up to deal with death?
One man I knew was relatively organized, and he kept all of his financial dealings on his computer . . . but no one knew his password.
I don’t want Dawn to have to deal with the tough issues I’ve seen other widows deal with. I’ve planned my finances so that there should be adequate money after I’m gone. I’ve taught my children that the most important thing to do after I’m gone is to take care of their mom. And I have put together a notebook with all pertinent information that she will need to know. She knows where it is, and copies of it are given each year to my two oldest daughters. (My kids laughingly call it the “Dad’s Dead Notebook.”) In the notebook, she will find these things, which I update at least once per year:
A “net worth” statement. This shows the value of all of our assets (accounts, our home, our cars, our retirement accounts, etc.) and our liabilities (loans, credit cards, etc.) A glance (it’s not that complicated since we have no debts other than our mortgage) and she knows our overall financial situation.
A list of all our accounts of all types. This list gives all pertinent information. For bank accounts, I give the type of account, name of the bank, account numbers, and how I access it–including passwords if I use it online. I include all utility accounts, with a list of how each utility is paid and when auto-payments come out of our accounts. I even include my social media accounts, so she can access and close them out.
A summary of wills, insurance, and retirements accounts. My wife is, of course, the primary beneficiary of all that I own, so I want her to know who to call and what to do if I die. The list also gives the location of the original paperwork.
A statement of my funeral wishes. She won’t have to wonder what I want, who to talk to, what songs to sing. She knows, for example, that I don’t want a viewing and that I do want to be cremated. It’s flexible enough that she can still make decisions, but it’s specific enough that she knows that I don’t want any extra money spent.
A final love note.