The “if I die first” conversation is necessary for couples to have especially since one spouse always knows something about running your shared lives that another doesn’t. The importance of this conversation is one many couples are realizing and engaging in according to the Boston Globe in a recent article, “First Comes Love, then Comes Marriage. Then Comes the ‘If I Go First. . .’ Conversation.” There are many things to touch on about what happens after one spouse passes, and it isn’t necessarily the emotional parts.
Think about the things you do for your shared life, are you the one who pays bills or knows the plumber? Which of you has memorized the log in information for your joint bank account? Does your partner have quirks you love but you monitor to improve their quality of life? All the day-to-day parts of your lives that are routine are things that once one of you passes could exacerbate the other’s grief. It’s always the little things that build up, and if your spouse can’t find the recipe to your lasagna or doesn’t know the trick to fixing the AC, then those little things can push them to the bursting point.
How can you help ease the pain the other spouse will feel after one of you dies first? Have the “if I die first” conversation. Have it multiple times. You can incorporate the little things you do routinely into your daily conversations in a more joking matter as they come up. You can remind them to avoid things that irritate them, to take medication, or how often the dog needs their nails clipped. This is one way to cover things as you go, because let’s face it, you’re likely going to push the serious “what happens after my death” conversation back as much as you can. While it is important to sit down and have this conversation in a thorough manner, the more complex details concerning assets and beneficiaries etc. is something to do with your estate planning attorney.
Another trick to discussing what you do for your shared life is to try setting up “fire drills”, make a list of the most important things each spouse does and run fire drills about how to take care of things and about your wishes. Keep an up to date password list somewhere safe and make sure both spouses know where it is. Ensure you each at least have the password memorized to the master email you jointly use because you can always do a password reset for certain accounts if a password wasn’t updated. Run through the odds and ends the other spouse is now responsible for, like paying bills, sending the holiday card, or grabbing the outfit you wish to have on for your funeral.
Consider not just writing down passwords but document other things you might deem necessary like names of contacts or locations of where you put certain items they might need in the future. Another tip, if you both have cell phones, make sure you both have all the same contact information, you can even include notes in contacts, like for doctors, what their specialty is.
You may not think to discuss the little things that help your marriage and shared life run smoothly but talking about the little things you do for each other is a practical component in preparing the other if you die first. Estate planning is not just about documents, you also need to prepare your loved ones for life without you.
When it comes to the bigger conversations like trusts, beneficiaries, and assets, you can count on Family Estate Planning Law Group to help you facilitate that conversation between each other and with your family and other trusted advisors during our Family Care MeetingTM. At FEPLG, we help you prepare the technical aspects of your estate plan and we continually align, verify, and track your assets to make sure they are consistent with your estate plan so that you can focus on your family and aspects of your life that are not legally dependent. We help you plan for life® so that you have peace of mind knowing your family is taken care of.
Reference: The Boston Globe, (April 1, 2019) “First Comes Love, then Comes Marriage. Then Comes the ‘If I Go First. . .’ Conversation.”