“If anything should happen to me….”
Don and Kate were nervously anticipating Don’s upcoming life saving surgery. Don was also concerned that, should he not survive, Kate might not know everything that needed to be done upon his death. The night before his surgery he made this list for Kate of the things she should do if he didn’t make it through the operation:
My Dearest Kate
Although I expect to make it through this surgery it has got me thinking that anything could happen to any of us at anytime and we are rarely prepared.
So, if anything should happen…………….
- Before you tell anyone that I didn’t make it– Clean out our safety deposit box and joint bank accounts. Everything is going to you anyhow and when the bank finds out I’m dead, they’re liable to close off all access to them until my will is probated.
- Call the funeral director– But go there with somebody who won’t be suckered into buying the fanciest coffin. Just remember, the money you spend on my funeral won’t be available for the big wake I want you to throw for me!
- Gather up all my important papers– My will, life insurance, disability insurance, and general insurance policies, business agreements, banking information, notes receivable or payable, stock or bond certificates, real estate deeds, recent tax returns, marriage, birth and death certificates, military records, automobile registration forms and all recent contracts. Don’t throw away anything that looks official, even if it appears to be terminated.
- My passwords are in the bottom left hand drawer of my desk in a note book which should be a big help to you in managing those accounts.
- Call our life insurance agent– He’ll not only help you in collecting the money from my life insurance, but also in collecting the death benefits of my group insurance, company pension, social security, as well as the death benefits from my variable annuities.
- Call our accountant– He’ll be needed for the various tax returns that must be filed.
- Call our attorney– She’ll tell you what other stuff is needed and what must be done to settle my estate. She’ll also tell you whether my will has to be probated (a process to prove my will is valid). Our attorney will also advise you on whether there are any federal or state estate taxes. As far as state probate costs, I’ve tried to minimize them through joint ownership of most of our assets and naming beneficiaries where I could.
- Call the other executors– You know you are my primary executrix, and you know who the other two are, so call them. Even though our lawyer will probably call them, it would be nice if they heard from you first.
- Call my business associates– My partner will want to know that our buy-sell agreement has just been triggered so he can collect the insurance money to buy my share of the business from you. And call my assistant Marie in Admin to spread the word. Ask her if there’s anything else coming to you such as unpaid expense accounts, ongoing group benefits, etc.
- DON’T PANIC! I picked my executors and the above-mentioned professionals to assist and advise you in this situation. So let them do their jobs and help you. And don’t rush into anything, like selling the house, or anything major, for at least a year. With my life insurance and all the other benefits coming to you, you can take your time and make better decisions when the time is right.
Fortunately, Don survived his surgery and is on the road to recovery. Don decided that he would attach this list to his will for Kate to refer to in the future, because, well, you never know….