To be prepared, ask questions, learn more

By Gail Albin

If you are new to this column, welcome. I try to reach older people and hopefully help with issues that bring problems. I learn most things the hard way, often making the mistake and then trying to figure out how to do better next time. 

It is a fact that most wives outlive their husbands. Brides are usually a little younger than the groom. In many cases, the wife is left as a widow. My husband died suddenly a little over 10 years ago. His career had been accounting. I should have asked more questions. It was difficult and sometimes still hard to figure out how to handle business issues. I knew how to watch for bills coming in the mail and then paying them on time without getting a late fee. As far as investments, tax prep, household and car maintenance, and many other issues I was lost when he died. Probably in some cases the wife handles the “desk work.” 

It would be wise to have a dedicated notebook listing the title of all business and investment documents, the location in the home office and who to call if there are questions. A dedicated calendar would help with bill paying or following up as directed by a letter that could get misplaced. 

It could be a good idea if the wife left directions for the husband in case she precedes him in death. Would he know where all the family phone numbers and address book is located. Would he know when the family birthdays come up, what cookbook has his favorite dish? Where are her important documents kept? 

It would be wise to sit down and ask one another questions and get answers. It is bad enough to be well informed when that sad day comes. 

After we were married for many years, we did make an appointment and paid for and made funeral plans for each of us. I can’t even imagine having to do that soon after death. There is assistance out there. 

I have heard that Senior Alliance is very helpful. Their phone is 734-722-2830 . Funeral directors / staff handle family loss all of the time. 

Churches can help and there are widow/widower groups that meet regularly and help one another. 

I prefer to write a fun column. This time I feel I should write this anything but fun column. 

Start your Happy New Year by planning ahead. 

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