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How to Love Your Family, Even After You’re Gone

By Marie Burns February 18, 2024 Lifestyle

In this month of “love” I think it’s appropriate to share a blog from Pastor Jack, from Avondale Baptist Church in Arizona. He wrote a blog for his congregation a few years ago about how to love your wife even after you’re gone and I requested his permission to share it.

This is not just a message to men. The same message applies to all women as we think about our surviving spouse or family in the future. Remember, this is not a sad topic, it is a realistic and inevitable one. To give your family one final, important gift, read on…

Guest Post by Pastor Jack

I met Dawn when I was 14. By age 16, I was, to use a word from the old movie Bambi, hopelessly twitterpated. We dated for 4 years, and we have now been married for over 40 years.

I love her, and I would do anything for her.

And I want to do some things for her now that will show my love for her after I’m dead.

I don’t know the future, of course, but there is a good chance that I will die before she does. About 80% of married men will die before their wives. Sadly, I’ve ministered to and helped many widows who were completely unprepared for life after their husband died, especially if he took care of the family finances.

Some of the men, frankly, had done a horrible job of preparing for their wives after their death. They had structured their finances in such a way that much of the family income died when they died. Or they had spent so much of their retirement while they were alive that there was little left when they were gone. Or they had left their finances in such poor shape that even an accountant would have had a hard time putting together a plan.

Other men had done a good job with their finances, but a poor job of communicating details to their wives, so many widows had no clue about their basic financial issues. How much was still owed (if anything) on the house? Was there any life insurance, and, if so, how much? Where did he keep the copies of paperwork such as wills, life insurance paperwork, and paid–and unpaid–bills? How much money was in checking, savings, investments, and retirement accounts? How were those accounts accessed? How were the pensions set-up to deal with death?

One man I knew was relatively organized, and he kept all of his financial dealings on his computer . . . but no one knew his password.

I don’t want Dawn to have to deal with the tough issues I’ve seen other widows deal with. I’ve planned my finances so that there should be adequate money after I’m gone. I’ve taught my children that the most important thing to do after I’m gone is to take care of their mom. And I have put together a notebook with all pertinent information that she will need to know.

She knows where it is, and copies of it are given each year to my two oldest daughters. (My kids laughingly call it the “Dad’s Dead Notebook.”) In the notebook, she will find these things, which I update at least once per year:

A “Net Worth” Statement

This shows the value of all of our assets (accounts, our home, our cars, our retirement accounts, etc.) and our liabilities (loans, credit cards, etc.) at a glance (it’s not that complicated since we have no debts other than our mortgage) and she knows our overall financial situation.

A List of All Our Accounts of All Types

This list gives all pertinent information. For bank accounts, I give the type of account, name of the bank, account numbers, and how I access it–including passwords if I use it online. I include all utility accounts, with a list of how each utility is paid and when auto-payments come out of our accounts. I even include my social media accounts, so she can access and close them out.

A Summary of Wills, Insurance, and Retirements Accounts

My wife is, of course, the primary beneficiary of all that I own, so I want her to know who to call and what to do if I die. The list also gives the location of the original paperwork.

A Statement of My Funeral Wishes

She won’t have to wonder what I want, who to talk to, what songs to sing. She knows, for example, that I don’t want a viewing and that I do want to be cremated. It’s flexible enough that she can still make decisions, but it’s specific enough that she knows that I don’t want any extra money spent.

A Final Love Note

I love my wife. And I want her to know that.

Even after I’m gone.

Pastor Jack

Get Your Financial House in Order

How you choose to get your financial house in order so it is all findable, organized, clear, and complete is up to you. Do you want to read about it to DIY your own process/format? Do you want step-by-step worksheets? Do you want a fill-in-the-blank workbook?

Do you want to pick and choose the content to work at your own pace and have fillable checklists to help? Do you want a bundle of checklists that you can have at the ready that are designed for your stage in life? Or are you looking for a complete library of 70+ Get Ready checklists?

When it comes to getting your financial house in order, it’s really all about what feels right for you. The main thing is making sure your financial house is organized, clear, and ready whenever you or your family may need it.


Let’s Have a Conversation:

Is this a gift you have already prepared for your family? Have you already inherited a gift or a mess from your own family? What advice can you share with our community? Let’s have a discussion!

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One major consideration of Estate Planning is having a Living Trust vs a Will. Everyone should consult with a Financial Planner to determine which option would be most beneficial for your situation.


Our estate planning is in order and the surving spouse will be provided for no matter who dies first. All documents and financials are in our safety box along with letters of intent for our wishes for our burial. It’s so important and one of the kindest things one can do for their spouse and children.


December of 2022 my husband was bleeding out in surgery. The doctors told me it looked dim. I realized I didn’t know the first thing to do. I would have been paralyzed and lost. Through the work of several talented surgeons, they pulled him through. When he came home, we got our affairs in order. Now when either of us passes, as will happen sometime, the other will have just one phone call to make. Wherever we are, they will transport our remains, cremate them and transport them to the National Cemetary in our hometown. It’s already paid for as we locked in the costs. Your chances of dying are 100 percent so plan now. It’s such a relief to know I won’t have to deal with figuring it out on the fly.

Marie Burns

Such a realistic reminder, our “chances of dying are 100 percent.” And feeling paralyzed and lost is so understandable when no planning has been done. Thank you for sharing your story and hoping it nudges others to action too!


My father and mother in law did the very same. When he passed away almost 3 years ago, everything was arranged and his widow didn’t have to worry one iota of a bit. Everything was recorded and taken into account. Prepaid funeral arrangements, insurance, home, car, banking, bills, etc. Nothing worse going through a tremendous loss and having to make decisions on the fly, or being in the dark what to do or where you stand financially. I’ve seen it happen too many times. Yes, it’s a reality we are temporarily on this earth…and it’s something many refuse to acknowledge. Which translates into much misery for many spouses. In Ontario, Canada, you don’t have a will and you have children, half of all assets goes to the surviving spouse, other half is automatically split between offspring. Unfortunately, I’ve seen families become estranged over this issue. Not all children put their parent first. Thank you for sharing such a valuable insight.

Last edited 1 month ago by Virginia

The Author

Marie Burns, a Certified Financial Planner (CFP®), advocates for women’s financial health. She is an author of a financial checklist book series, speaker, podcast host and partners with clients to offer friendly financial advice in her independent practice Visit her at or

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