If you died suddenly, will your partner or spouse know how to fend for themselves in the midst of grief? Will your partner or family member know what your wishes were, will he/she have power of attorney to settle your affairs, access your accounts, have enough money to get through the first week, month, year? And if your partner were the one to go first, will you have all of that information? In short, when it comes to life/death planning, do you have your shit together?
That’s the question that Chanel Reynolds, a freelance designer in Seattle, mother of a 5-year-old son, and widow to an avid cyclist and software engineer, wants everyone to ask themselves. She didn’t “have her shit together,” and when her husband died suddenly in a biking accident, she was left trying to figure out where his passwords are, how to access his bank accounts, how to pay their mortgage, how to take care of her little boy and stepdaughter, all while going through the biggest, most devastating emotional trauma of her life.
Now Chanel is sharing her story and helping others via her website: getyourshittogether.org. I first discovered this story via a New York Times article, and this story held extra poignancy for me because of my recent marriage. I have to say that neither CB nor I have my shit together:
- We don’t have a will – although I do have stated beneficiaries for my retirement accounts, which constitute 95% of my total assets)
- We do not have a living will or directive – we simply have talked about, in generalities, what constitutes an acceptable quality of life
- We don’t really know each others’ passwords, or even all the accounts that each others have
- We do not have a medical power of attorney – even though we are married, CB and I have different last names, so I am worried that in case something happens, we may need additional “proof” that we are married or have the right to make decisions for each other
- We do not have any life insurance – and maybe at this point we don’t need any, but that is something to be discussed once I get a full-time job