Dear Wife, I’m Dead – Here’s What You Need to Do

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what happens if you dieHave you ever thought about how well your family would operate without you? I mean, what happens if you die? Sure, they’d be sad and they’d probably be unable to physically move for a few days. After all, death is one of the most tragic occurrences in all of life…but, I’m not talking about emotions here. I’m basically just talking about money (surprise surprise, I know ;)).

*BOOM!!*

The car next to you just abruptly switched lanes and creamed you in the driver side front quarter-panel. You careem across two lanes and an SUV plows into your back-end. The next impact is the guard-rail…and that’s that last thing you remember.

You’re dead.

It could happen to anyone! At any given moment, death happens.

  • Freak accident
  • Cancer
  • Heart attack
  • Liver failure

Are you prepared for your death? Or would your family grieve for your loss and then grieve again because they had no money? What happens if you die?

Nobody wants to leave their family high and dry. This is why I partnered with a top-notch life insurance company. Take an action today to cover your life with Term Life Insurance.

I recommend Ethos Term Life Insurance.

The cost is probably less than $20 a month and it’ll only take you a few minutes to sign up. No medical exams. No long forms to fill out. No excuses.

Take care of your family, have life insurance, and make a plan.

Here’s my plan….

ethos term life insurance

Dear Wife, I’m Dead. Here’s What You Need to Do.

Liz,

I had dreams of growing old with you – walking the Caribbean beach together, napping in the peaceful rolling hills of Great Britain, and owning that piece of property in the country that we’ve been dreaming about since day one – but if you’re reading this letter…then I guess it just wasn’t meant to be. I’m sorry, but I’m gone…already waiting for you on the other side.

I know this whole thing is painful, but hopefully all this planning will at least take away the stress out of what you need to do next.

Here’s your step-by-step guide. I love you.

1) Pay For the Funeral with Cash from Savings

You and me babe, we’ve always been savers. At this moment, I’m sure there’s at least $15,000 in our checking and savings. Take out $8,000 and do what needs to be done with the funeral home. I don’t need anything flashy – the Toyota casket will do. No sense paying for that Rolls Royce. It’ll just getting buried with dirt anyway. 😉

…and speaking of Toyota’s…sell my car. That’ll add a nice pile of cash to our already-loaded savings account.

2) Sell This Website

Hundreds of thousands of people depend on this website each year to get their money questions answered. It would be a shame to just let it die with me. Not to mention the fact that it’s valuable – probably 10 times more valuable than that car I just told you to sell.

Related: Sell My Site for $60,000?

Reach out to J. Money from Budgets are Sexy and “ESI” from ESI Money. They’ll help you find a good buyer for this site, and at a fair price too. I trust them both.

Put this money into Addi’s college fund. With the amount you get from insurance along with the 16 years of growth, this should cover almost all of her schooling (make her work for the rest, it’ll be good for her ;)).

3) Collect the Life Insurance Money

Between my work life insurance and the term insurance we both bought last year, you should receive roughly $400,000. My work will tell you what to do to gather up their life insurance money. And the term insurance papers are in our safe. Just send them my death certificate and you’ll get the money shortly thereafter.

In the meantime, just live off of our savings. There’s plenty in there. Don’t freak out…things are going to be just fine.

Keep reading.

4) Invest It, Draw Some From It

Alright. You’ve got $400,000 in your hands. Invest it. All of it.

We’ve already got a Wealthsimple investment account. Just add all of this money to the existing “growth fund”. With this amount of money, they’ll manage the account for free and it’ll grow by roughly $2,600 a month. You should be able to live on that. In fact, since our house is paid for and we have absolutely no debt, and since those rental houses are both earning money, you should really only need to withdraw $1,000 a month (yes, even with Addi’s private school).

The $400k will continue to grow, even with your withdrawals, and you can use it later in life for special trips, additional college funding, or heck, use it for your early retirement.

5) Keep the Rentals, Have Someone Else Manage Them

I know your first instinct would be to sell the rentals because you don’t think you can manage them. Don’t do it. Those properties are cash cows. Not only are they producing profits of $20,000 a year, they’re also appreciating in value by 3-5% each year.

Your best bet is to have someone manage the properties for you. If Ryan is in town at this point, ask him if he’ll do it. He’ll be fair and with all those properties he owns himself, he obviously knows what he’s doing.

Pay him $200 a month plus expenses. You won’t have to worry about a thing and you’ll still clear $16,000-$17,000 a year.

6) If Addi Isn’t in School Yet, Stay Home

I’m gone, and so is my work income…but that’s okay!

When I was working, we had way more money coming in than we had going out. With the extra $1,000 that you’re pulling out of investments each month and with the $1,500 that you’ll get from the rentals, you’ll have more than enough money to pay the bills.

Don’t rush out and try to find a job. Just stay at home with that sweet daughter of ours. Life is going to be tough emotionally, and you’ll both need each other to heal.

7) Keep Pursuing Your Photography Career

I probably didn’t say it enough when I was alive, but you sure turned into one amazing photographer. And the business that you’ve worked so hard to grow, it’s about to take off, I can feel it! Grieve for as long as you need to, but be sure that you don’t let that photography dream die.

With love and peace,

Derek

*         *          *            *

What Happens If You Die? Or Your Spouse Dies?

So what’s your letter going to look like? What happens if you die?

For most, there is no letter…and there’s no money. They always meant to buy life insurance, but it always seemed like too much of a hassle to do today…

Let me clue you in though…your FAMILY is worth the hassle. I’m sure you’d agree, so let’s get this taken care of right now.

Apply for your term life insurance at Ethos. It’s cheap, easy, and it honestly takes less than 15 minutes. You’ll feel amazing that you finally did it and your family will surely thank you if anything ever happens.


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42 comments to Dear Wife, I’m Dead – Here’s What You Need to Do

  • Wow, pretty morbid article today. How depressing, thinking about your own death. Good to know you got your family covered though in the event of your untimely ending. I think my family would get by just fine without me and my measly part time income. No need for me to write our such a detailed plan of action and instructions. Hopefully this helps those that need it.
    Keep up the good work!

    • Morbid, but incredibly important.

      Don’t sell yourself short, Tim. You earn money at your job, you earn a heck of a lot of money doing those flips, and you save a bunch of money by watching the kiddos while your wife works! You should DEFINITELY have life insurance. Probably $500k minimum!

  • Dani

    I’m glad that you have this plan in place. Even when it seems like everything is taken care of, sometimes the survivors really just need the assurance that such a letter would give; this takes the “having to think too much” off their shoulders during the hardest time. Usually, though, most people don’t have things taken care of and a little clarification would go a long way! I have every faith that my husband would not make the moves that we “discussed” (we have had the conversation several times), because when I bring it up, he balks at the idea of my not being here. With such a letter, he can hand it to the good friend that I know will step in to help, he can hand it to the banker, the investment advisor, the funeral director, even! No extra thought necessary, and no inability to imagine the worst while I am still here.
    I deal with years-old estates sometimes, things that didn’t get handled properly and family members that no longer speak to one another. Get a plan, people. Write it down. Make sure everyone who might be part of your greater estate plan know about it and where to find what’s necessary.
    Morbid? I don’t really think so; we’re all gonna die, so it really is best to be prepared because nobody knows when their number is up. It is the most loving thing you can do.

  • I can insure myself as far as life insurance, but my husband is un-insurable due to a health issue

    What then?

    • Save up and become as wealthy as possible as fast as possible. If you’re still worried about it, you can get some gimmick mortgage insurance and quick personal life insurance policies (for $10k or so), but these are pretty expensive compared to term insurance rates. BUT, with being un-insurable, these might be your best options.

  • Kathy

    My husband and I have certainly progressed from his mother’s attitude of “Dad, don’t talk about it” to having definite plans and discussions for what will happen if one of us die. Heck, we even have a multi-page letter to our son in a safe deposit box with instructions to him containing our bank and investment account information, insurance info, funeral wishes etc. in the event we both die at the same time. Our son’s name is on the box and we’ve told him where the keys are so he should have no trouble getting into the box. My husband handled his parent’s estate and I helped my mom with my dad’s and step-dad’s estates so we both know how convoluted things can get. When you add emotions to the mix, many people just don’t think coherently for a long time afterward. Having a plan written down is something tangible they can refer to and maybe not stray off the plan too much.

  • I’ve got a spreadsheet that has kind of everything needed but there isn’t anything step by step. Probably should be. Very depressing to think about but necessary all the same.

  • It is a morbid, but practical plan. I have a similar written plan for my wife to follow. My wife is super frugal. The investmenting side of our affairs do not interest her. That has lead me to simplify most of our accounts to just a few asset classes. My directions for her is to exchange everything into target-date funds.

    • Hey Dave. Yeah, it’s not always too pleasant to think about, but you know what? I’m going to die. You’re going to die. It could be today, it could be tomorrow, it could be in 60 years…but we should all be prepared – financially, spiritually, and relationally.

      Glad to hear that you have plans for your wife. You’re a good man!!

  • I have a “money field manual” that’s similar to this, but rather than prescribe steps (or suggest steps) it just outlines the financial situation in prose. We have spreadsheets that do the tracking but the manual explains what everything is, how it is related, who a POC is (for an investment or partnership), as well as insight into what I was thinking when it was all set up.

    It was meant to be helpful in the event I die unexpectedly but it’s also helpful for me to remember a decision made a year (or more) ago. It’s morbid but practical and useful, even if you haven’t died.

  • This is a fantastic letter. I have a very similar one in my “hit by a bus” file for my husband if anything ever happened to me (calling it that adds some dark humor to an otherwise difficult topic). He’s a stay-at-home dad and doesn’t regularly manage our finances. The letter was hard to write, but I hope that if he ever needs it it would lessen his stress just a little. Thanks for sharing yours!

    • Lol. I love that – “Hit by Bus File”. I might have to steal that!

      I agree, it is a bit emotional to put together, but it’s SO REWARDING once it’s done – to know that you family is safe no matter what happens to you. Beyond being debt free, it’s our next level of security in our family.

  • TraceyA

    Derek, this is great! I know Dave Ramsey has touched on this issue, but not as in depth as you have.
    Although I have a spreadsheet and my husband and kids know where it is, I think a letter like this is a great idea to add to that file.
    We all know when you go through something emotionally devastating, you don’t always think clearly. And to have a letter from your love guide you through those first days/weeks and important steps is a great thing.
    Not morbid it all – all of us will face this eventually; life is temporary and can be short!

    • Yup, that’s EXACTLY the reason for the letter. I know that my wife and I want to put our daughter through private school and then college, so that alone can be overwhelming without a plan. I wanted to let her know that keeping the rental properties was a good idea – and even beyond that, show her how to have them managed and kept up. Without this letter, the rentals would have been yet another layer of stress on top of an already-stressful situation.

      I agree about your morbid note too. We’re all going to die! There’s no way around it!

  • Dustin

    Brilliant! I actually created and shared a Google doc with my wife about two months ago entitled “In Case I Die”. I really like your format, very easy to follow steps – I think I’ll update my to something similar!

  • Lin

    A separate attached doc should list all account numbers and passwords, too. And does she have the safe combo? Having helped settled several estates, I do not think a letter like this is morbid. I think it’s kind. Death comes to us all, and many horrible decisions with irreversible consequences are made by the survivors in grief and desperation.

  • Very humbling article.

    I am relatively young (25) and handle pretty much all of our families finances. Our finances are growing at a tremendous rate, but recently I have also given the thought of “what would happen if I wasn’t here to manage it?” Mrs. FMM doesn’t really know how our investments works, or where the money goes.

    This gives me ALOT to think about, especially with us getting married this summer. Term Life Insurance is definitely going to be on my To-Do List once we’re married.

    Thanks for sharing this!

  • Beautifully written. I have been meaning to do this for a while now, but keep putting it off, probably for the obvious reasons. Thanks for the inspiration to take the time to do it.

  • It’s nice that you have this plan in place, man! Do you recommend someone with no dependents buy life insurance? I have a 36k policy with my job. That should be more than enough to cover my funeral expenses.

  • Kim

    Don’t forget social security survivor benefits for the spouse and child!

  • Joe

    Hoefully you both have online Social Security accounts. You can look at your earnings history and benefit estimates. My wife and I log on annually.

  • Your sweet letter made me cry. Not tears of sadness but of sentiment. I have no dependents and no life insurance. I do however have to write a will and get a health care proxy. Thanks for the reminders!

  • […] post, “Dear Wife, I’m Dead. Here’s What You Need to Do” got some attention and inspired one person to get life insurance! YES! Way to […]

  • […] Does you spouse have a clear plan if you die tomorrow? What should that plan look like? We take a look with Life and My Finances. […]

  • Marcia

    You hit this on the head. Can’t stress ENOUGH…talk about this to you family members! Term life insurance is the way to go. Here is a horrible example, but sadly, true. My neighbor died this past Easter Sunday. He had bought a brand new travel trailer last year, (to retire) leased a brand new big truck to tow the travel trailer, and still had a mortgage on their condo. He was 83 years old! He only had a $2500 life insurance policy! His widow knew nothing about the finances, but now understands the words, “upside down”. She is 72, and MUST keep working now, as her only monthly income is $1500 SS. She makes $30,000 year. I’m not even sure this is doable😪

    • Yikes. Yeah, that is a sad example. And what’s even sadder is that your story is not uncommon! People die every day and it seems like most of them don’t have life insurance…

      It’s not always easy to talk about life insurance (ie. your own death), but it’s absolutely necessary!

    • Nicole

      That is horribly sad.

  • […] Related: Dear Wife, I’m Dead – Here’s What You Need to Do […]

  • Nicole

    Excellent article. I read it when it was first published and never got around to replying. This is also perfect for parents with adult children.

    My life completely changed when I had to take over my Dads finances/health crisis and burial. All the money came out of my own pocket alone.I am making sure when it is my time to go my Sister will not have to worry about such things.

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