Losing a loved one is a tragedy for which no one is prepared. Of course, it is often impossible to predict such events, though it is helpful to be aware of the practical aspects of dealing with your loss, which can ease some of the emotional stress during what is undoubtedly a difficult time.
Draw up a will
Drawing up a will for your partner’s estate will save you a lot of hassle. Despite what you may have heard, the state will not seize your partner’s property if there is no will in place, though if your partner dies ‘intestacy’ (without a will) you might have to go through the process of becoming a “voluntary administrator,” which can be stressful.
When drawing up a will you should first specify where your partner’s assets will go as well as choosing a trusted executor (the person who will carry out the will). You should then establish a guardian (this can be more than one person) and a trustee. Guardians will be in charge of any details concerning minors (any children under 18) in the unlikely event that both you and your partner die. You should draft letters to the guardians, which should be updated as your children grow older and their needs change. The trustee will be responsible for any money or trusts and should ideally be someone separate from the guardian.
Despite popular opinion, you do not need a lawyer to draw up a will. It is advisable to contact a lawyer for large or complicated estates (business owners, those with assets over $1 million, and those with issues of custody or international citizenship). Otherwise, you can draw up a will yourself using one of the numerous will drafting websites. Often, wills can be drawn up for free or for a fee up to a few hundred dollars.
Specify a living will & assign a health care proxy
Specifying the will as a living will enables you to make decisions about life support and organ donation in advance, as well as allowing you to choose a health care proxy to manage healthcare if you are unable to make decisions or deal with correspondence.
Purchase life insurance
Taking out a life insurance policy with a reputable provider is a good way to ensure your financial stability in the event of your loved one’s death. Typically, policies pay out a lump sum and can help cover funeral and healthcare costs. It’s important to take out an insurance policy as soon as possible, especially if your partner is ill, as he/she will be required to complete sections of the application.
Secure digital power of attorney
Securing digital power of attorney (POA) is crucial for those who want to assert the right of the beneficiaries to the digital rights of the deceased. Digital rights might include things like social media accounts, digital assets, and other digital information belonging to your partner. This is especially important for those with online businesses.
Consider online access
One final thing to consider is online access to your partner’s accounts, which includes social media, banking, online subscription, and computer access. After your partner dies, it can be almost impossible to access this information because of passwords and PINs. Consider using a service like Legacy Locker, which stores log-in data securely before releasing it to the specified person following your partner’s death. You should also consider sharing log-in credentials for non-personal accounts as well as being aware of the location of important digital documents.
Learn more about preparation and organization by downloading our Getting Yourself Organized eBook.