10 Ways to Exit and Make it Easier for the Ones You Leave Behind

 thought of ten ways to exit and make it easier for those you leave behind because of what I experienced with my husband. From my physical point of view, my husband died too soon.  His death broke my heart.

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My husband in hospital. He never came out.

1.    My husband owned land in a foreign country. His land was his project and I distanced myself from it.  First off, communicate with each other. When planning to marry, or other, discuss finances and assets.Always communicate with each other.  This may be a “Duh” item. We did not make the time because we thought we had time.

2.    Make each aware of important documents generated before your union, whether with another spouse, partner, or alone. This makes both parties aware of what shall happen with them – land, funds, etc., who will be responsible, given that both are well. Have written, notarized papers that document your agreement. Both of you can revise this at a later date. It is important to have documents. Hearsay will not be accepted.

3.    Create living wills.  To have plans in place that cover both of you is sound advice. My husband was incapacitated while in hospital. It was unexpected. We were married; I had extra, sealed certificates of marriage from the country we were married in in case I needed to distribute them. I went through probate court to acquire health and financial proxy.  The hospital asked for proof of my relationship to my husband and I provided the sealed document from court. It was not enough to be married to my husband.

4.    Create last will and testament and have them notarized. As my husband’s will was not notarized, and the executors and the attorney were not living, I had to go through the probate court process as an omitted spouse. The submitted will was created several years before we met. He never updated it.

A view of Josiah's Bay, Tortola from our home that no longer exists.

5.    If your spouse owns land, determine what happens with the property should he pass before you.  My husband owned land and it was in his name. I went through legal processes  in court systems in two different countries; that included hiring a surveyor; getting a restriction removed from a parcel, and an attorney. The process was protracted because of coronavirus impacts, however, that served as I was getting educated as I progressed.

6.    Make sure your selected executors were asked and agree to the task of implementing the responsibilities of the decease’s desires.  If the executors transition, as was in the case of my husband, ask new people and if they accept, renew the will with their particulars. I knew that some of my husband’s executors were not living, however, I had to do a search for the other executor who was also deceased. Save the survivor’s time by keeping this part of the will updated. Please remember that they are grieving your leaving their world.

7.    Maintain important documents in a safe and accessible place. Few people need to know where they are.  Hardcopy and/or save to jump drives and the cloud. Include numbers- bank accounts, addresses to the bank location or locations where the account or accounts were created; insurance policies and phone numbers.  A list of contributions to charities would be helpful so that the organizations can be informed.

8.    Declutter always. When people depart, others are left with the responsibility of clearing their belongings. Instructions should be provided, if the belongings extend beyond the contents in the will, to distribute them or discard in a requested manner. Search organizations that can benefit and provide contact information. Estate sale businesses are an option to handle this deducting a percentage and the balance survivors.

9.    When my husband felt changes in his body, he talked out loud to remember facts about his life. I regret not taping his voice.  What I would not give to hear it again and again. But that is what we have recorders for. If the two of you plan to kick back on any morning, still in jammies, just talk and record. It could be about your time together, the wedding, its planning. Tape your comments while watching a movie in a genre both of you like. You can do many of these, and keep the best that remind you of why this is the best person to have chosen to spend the rest of your life with.

10.    Photographs are easier to take now. While many people pose for photos, I attempt to capture spontaneous, impromptu minutes in activities. I was at a family gathering and took pictures of members washing veggies; preparing breakfast; stretching and talking. The activities tell stories and may help one recall some of all that was involved in creating the day. These visuals are an asset to creating memorial slide shows.

Clem and me on Barbados for our honeymoon.

We would do all that we can for the ones we love. Death affects people in different ways. We are mortal and to ignore this part of our journey is a bit immature. Some people don’t construct wills because they are afraid to face their mortality.  Being in love, and people who have children, requires planning for those left behind. Planning and preparation takes time; it is not a last minute effort.










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Looking West on Drake's Highway, Tortola towards the Caribbean Sea by Allison L. Williams Hill

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