How to take care of your family in life and in death

It’s often heartbreaking when an individual’s spouse dies and, on top of trying to arrange their spouse’s funeral while grieving, they also have to struggle through accessing the family’s financial records and accounts without knowing where to begin.

It’s difficult to have conversations about estate planning and death. However, having conversations to plan for each person’s death will make the life of the surviving spouse far easier when the time comes.

Since there is no way to know which spouse will die first, it’s important that both partners are involved in or are at least provided with information for the family’s finances.

Here are some things to focus on to be sure both you and your spouse have necessary knowledge about your family’s financial accounts, contacts, and documents:


Not only is it important to know what bank accounts each spouse has, but also the usernames and passwords necessary to access these accounts. Also make sure to share with your spouse the information for all investment and retirement accounts. Finally, if there are documents or other funds or assets kept in a safety deposit box, be sure both spouses know the location of the key or the code to open it.

Financial contacts

Be sure that both spouses know who the family’s financial contacts and advisors are (accountant, lawyer, insurance broker, financial advisor) and have these advisors’ contact information such as phone numbers and email addresses. It’s also best that these advisors know of your spouse.


Make sure both spouses know where wills are kept, and of course, review wills often to be sure they are kept up-to-date. Make sure the choices for executors are still a good fit and that these individuals are aware of being your choice for executor.


Communicate with your spouse the types of insurance each has as well as the company it is with.

Other family assets

Finally, make sure to record the types of assets each spouse has, as well as which spouse owns which assets, including trusts, companies, vehicles, vacation homes, or other properties.

For help creating or updating your estate plan, contact us at Wilson and Wilson Estate Planning and Elder Law, LLC at 708 482 7090 for our main office in LaGrange, Illinois or at 847 656 8958 for our Northbrook, Illinois office.