Are We Ever Ready?... Part 1
February 20, 2013
When a loved one passes on, it is one of the hardest things to deal with on every level. Until someone walks in your shoes, no one has an inkling of what you are going through.
Even then, it is difficult because each couple’s relationship is unique. Personally, it is something I had to deal with at an early age. Although I had children, as soon as the funeral was over, they had to return to their respective universities. So, I was alone! HELP...!!! As an immigrant, family members are few, especially in Kansas City (zero). My dad was in a shambles having lost my mum the previous year. My dad had decided to move to Kansas City to be close to our family since I was always around and able to keep him busy. He had just returned to New Jersey, after purchasing a wee house in Parkville, to wind up his affairs there. What would happen now? The situation had certainly changed for all of us.
Unless you have already discussed what needs to be done and have your affairs in order, your head will be spinning! Fortunately, due to my mum’s passing, my husband Karl and I had discussed what to do. However, the state has rules and I complied as economically as possible; my husband's desire was to be put in a pine box and buried! I had to contact a funeral home, purchase a plot at the cemetery, and order a headstone. That was just the beginning! We had no will, but our property and accounts were in both of our names, so I had no difficulties. After the girls returned to school, I had to make adjustments, and that is the rest of the story...
I had always heard that one should not make any rash moves for at least three years after the death of a spouse, and I took that to heart. I got a job at an area nursing home, but when the residents asked about my husband, I was overcome with grief. I knew Karl wanted me to get back into living, not mourn for him, so I stayed out the week and then quit. Christmas was rapidly approaching and I knew I had to "be there" for my daughters. I had a satisfactory amount of money, however, with the cost of medical insurance for the girls, myself, and plus college fees, my resources were rapidly disappearing. I decided to get a job, but where? I was a homemaker and all that that implies. I was happy making my family happy. That is not a marketable commodity. Through a dear lady at my bank who saw my situation, I was put in touch with an area doctor. I became his girl Friday: arranging appointments, filing, and answering the phone, etc. I really enjoyed the job and stayed for 5 years. Then my daughters were graduating college, getting married etc. I needed more for myself and my future. I was hired by the Boardwalk Branch of MCPL, and I am (happily) still here.
As I became familiar with the contents of our shelves, I was also learning that there are many books on topics that pertained to my state in life. For instance, wills and trusts. Like I said previously, Karl and I did not have a will, but we were smart in how we set things up. But one should have a will, especially if there are young children involved (you don’t want them to become wards of the state). But where to turn? I advise speaking to friends, and reading about making a will.
Here are some titles to check out to help you make decisions about your estate and create a will:
- Quicken Willmaker: Book & Software Kit by Nolo
- The Everything Wills & Estate Planning Book: Professional Advice to Safeguard Your Assets and Provide Security for Your Family by Deborah S. Layton
- Your Wills, Trusts & Estates Explained Simply: Important Information You Need to Know by Margaret E. Pierce
- The Handbook to Wills, Funerals, and Probate: How to Protect Yourself and Your Survivors by Theodore E. Hughes
You can also use one of MCPL's legal databases that we subscribe to called Missouri Legal Forms. It offers an online library of legal forms including wills, healthcare directives, and power of attorney, all specific to Missouri. Missouri Legal Forms is also available on Android and iOS.
Stay tuned for "Are We Ever Ready?" Part 2...