Being Generous to the End
A while back a friend of mine lost her husband and son in an airplane crash. It was unbelievably devastating, but what made it even harder was being unprepared to deal with all the paperwork for her husband’s estate and just the over all hassle of trying to find the electric bill or where the birth certificates were stored.
Whether you or your husband handles the paperwork, it is a kind and generous thing to make sure that your spouse knows where all the important papers are and how to handle the household expenses. No one expects to be widowed, but for some it will happen. Be kind. Be prepared.
In an effort to help gals with this, I’ve created some pages. Print them out, use them as check lists, fill in the info, file as appropriate. Hopefully you will never need this info, but if you do, it will save you or your sweetie a truckload of hassle.
What I have listed below is just a suggestion for organizing your paperwork. Please be aware that you have many options. You can file things on your computer, in files, in binders and more. Hopefully what I have here will help you see the different kinds of paperwork you may need to handle and help you gather what you need.
I would also recommend that you not run out and buy a lot of fancy containers, labels and what not. Start with basic office supplies and use whatever boxes and household items you have around the house. When you have tried a number of things and have found a system that works for you, then buy the pretty baskets and fancy organizers.
These papers have little day to day use, you just need to have them handy. Some of these are original papers (like birth certificates). Others are reference materials (like your auto insurance policy).
something to hang your file folders in (safe, cabinet, box, etc.)
hanging file folders w/tabs – expandable or box bottom are nice
pen & paper
your pile of important papers
CHECKLIST OF IMPORTANT PAPERS
HOW TO SET UP A HOUSEHOLD FILING SYSTEM
The “checklist” will give you an idea of what is important and the “how to” will help you set up a file system from which you can retrieve your papers when you need them.
These are the necessary day to day materials (like bills and bank statements). One person usually does the bill paying and general paperwork, so it’s a good idea to share that information or create reference pages so that the non-bill-paying spouse can figure out what needs to be done.
The “checklist” will give you an idea of what papers you need. The “how to” will help you set up a work station. The “reference pages” will have overall information that you might need. The “household binder” is just one idea for gathering household information.
You will have a whole host of other kinds of papers, from correspondence to your kid’s art work. These are not necessary to running your household, but they’re important to you in some way. I would recommend setting these aside to deal with later as a separate organizational issue.
Yes, you and your husband need a will. Even if you have no children and not much in the way of worldly goods, having a simple will can save you a tremendous amount of hassle. Most states will automatically give everything to the surviving spouse, but a will makes that smooth and easy. If you have children, a will is a must. It is rare that both spouses die at the same time, but please be wise and make plans for your children.
There are different schools of thought when it comes to insurance. I respect that people have different beliefs, but if you are in the market for an opinion, may I encourage you to look into this? Insurance money can make a difficult time much more bearable. It may also keep you from having to sell your house or scramble for a different job to make ends meet. You don’t need more stress at such a time.
Four Must Have Insurance Policies by Dave Ramsey
When it comes to decisions, especially important decisions, I encourage you to act as slowly as you can. One common way of dealing with grief is to be busy. There are details to deal with, but take things as slowly as your sanity will allow. You won’t be thinking well. Do only those things that have to be done and go to your wisest friends for advice when making any important decisions.