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When tragedy strikes

By Jennie L. Phipps · Bankrate.com
Sunday, June 10, 2012
Posted: 6 am ET

My friend and neighbor, a 58-year-old trucker who pulled gravel trains, suffered a fatal accident recently when he blew a tire, and the load flipped up over the cab, crushing him.

His widow has been in shock, not only because of the tragic death shortly before his retirement, but also because of the prospect of sorting through the financial issues that no one expected to face this soon.

I've been trying to help. In the process, I've learned a couple of things I'll share with you. Previously, I would never have thought to make them part of retirement planning.

Stash a cash nest egg. In the case of a sudden death, there are going to be unexpected bills for everything from boarding pets to feeding out-of-town relatives. Being able to access money quickly is comforting.

Having a relationship with an attorney makes things easier. Even if it isn't an attorney who specializes in the kinds of issues your survivors and heirs will face, ensuring there is someone qualified and willing to take phone calls, provide referrals and offer other advice quickly and informally will expedite the estate process.

Making pre-need funeral arrangements expedites the healing process. All of us are going to die sometime. Forcing our loved ones to start from scratch when it happens is an unnecessary burden.

Make a plan for eliminating debt. If you must carry debt, then buy enough term life insurance so that your bereaved spouse won't have to struggle with turning a car back to the dealer or negotiating with the mortgage or credit card company just to keep afloat.

Store your passwords and phone numbers where your spouse can find them. If the people you leave behind can't access your records, you maximize their stress levels.

In the wake of the tragedy, hold your tongue. It is natural to blame people in these kinds of emotional situations, but down the road, you may need their good will.

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1 Comment
Linda Hubbard
June 11, 2012 at 4:01 pm

You neglected to say that you need to have a will, power of attorney and advanced directives done before tragedy strikes.