A Public Service Announcement

10 Apr

Recently, an elderly loved one passed away leaving his grieving widow at a loss. The woman told me, “I don’t know what I’m going to do. My husband always made all the decisions. He paid all the bills.”

At first, I assumed this was typical of the older generation since often the wives deferred to their husbands. Surely, it couldn’t happen to me. Then, I really started to think about it. If something happened to either me or my husband, would we have all the information we needed to make end-of-life or burial decisions? Would we both know what bills needed to be paid? What about insurance policies? Well, we do have a will and I know about some of the “big stuff.” But sadly, if something happened, we’d be at a loss–in more ways than one.

A few years ago, I took over the bill paying because I wanted to know where the money was going. As a result, I moved everything online and guess what? My husband doesn’t have the passwords.  I starting asking my friends who paid the bills in their household and what would happen if they or their spouse died. Most laughed a little nervously and said their husbands wouldn’t have a clue. One even mentioned all her bill information and passwords were in her desk at work.

Today, there is even the issue of things like social media. There was an article in the Buffalo News recently about access to Facebook accounts of deceased loved ones. Hey, if something happened to me, wouldn’t I want my friends to know? Truly at that point, I probably wouldn’t care, but maybe my loved ones would want access to my accounts, even if just for a little while.

I am not a lawyer, but perhaps this short post will get you and your significant other to start a conversation. Gather up all your important papers, passwords,  bills and talk. Make sure you both know where everything is, how to access it, and if necessary, sit down with a lawyer to draft any other important documents.

You don’t want to have the double tragedy of losing a loved one and be wondering how your electricity bill gets paid.

~Alison Stone

5 Responses to “A Public Service Announcement”

  1. jesstopper April 11, 2012 at 7:24 am #

    So true, Allison. My husband and I joke about it all the time. It’s stuff we don’t WANT to think about, but we should. I handle all of the household bills and I am the keeper of the passwords! Thank you for bringing this up…

    • Alison Stone April 12, 2012 at 5:17 am #

      Okay all you “keeper of the passwords” make sure your significant others know where to find them! Oh, I am so guilty of that,too.

  2. thejoysofwriting April 11, 2012 at 12:06 pm #

    Very true, Allison. I took a Dave Ramsey class a couple years ago and was amazed at what I didn’t know about our finances, life insurance, stock, IRA’s, our net worth. I feel very on top of this stuff now, and I do pay the bills. But I never thought about social media accounts, how either of us wants to be buried, or even what I’d like done with my manuscripts. Thanks for the reminder.

    • Alison Stone April 12, 2012 at 5:15 am #

      I’ve read Dave Ramsey’s book. I think they should teach this stuff in high school.

      Thanks for stopping by!

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