BOSTON (CBS) – If you are married one of you will become widowed and usually it is the woman who is the surviving spouse.
There are 800,000 new widows/widowers in the US each year. Nearly 700,000 of them are women who have lost their husbands. By age 65, more than half of all married American women are widowed.
There are things a couple can do to prepare for the possibility of one of them being widowed. Getting your estate planning done or updated is the first step.
Have there been any major changes in your life? Those major changes could be a move to another state, the birth or adoption of a baby, yours or a grandbaby. A new marriage, a divorce. Your kids have gotten married or they have gotten divorced. A death that could affect your will or trust such as the executor or a trustee passing away or one of the heirs in your will.
Take the time to talk about those awkward topics like death and dying. The quality of life if you are terminally ill. Organ donation. Execute a Health Care Proxy. This document allows you to choose someone to make medical decisions for you if you are unable.
You want to be sure you both have Durable Powers of Attorney so someone can act on your behalf while you are living to handle financial or legal problems if you are unable to do so.
Review life insurance policies to be sure you are both adequately insured.
Review pension and retirement plans. Know what your spouse has and what they are eligible for? And what benefits you are entitled to if something should happen?
Check the beneficiary designations on your retirement plans and insurance policies. Those long ago forgotten IRAs or pensions may need updating.
Where are the important papers of your life stored? Organize them so you both can easily locate them in an emergency or worse a death.
These would be wills, trust documents, Powers of Attorney, Health Care Proxys, health and life insurance policies, Social Security cards, birth certificates, marriage license, military discharge papers, pension documents.