I am stealing this from AARP because I thought it was good information worth sharing with some additional comments from me.
You can greatly ease the burden on a surviving spouse by discussing financial matters today. Here are some steps to get your affairs in order. Don’t leave your spouse to figure stuff out after your death. As if it isn’t hard enough, trying to organize and handle financial details of a passing spouse can be a nightmare if you don’t spend a little time organizing in advance.
1> Gather financial papers. Store deeds, titles, passports, insurance policies and other important documents in at least a fire-proof safe if not in a safe deposit box where both of you have access. The eliminates the need to wonder where everything is and have your found ALL of the important documents while dealing with the grief of losing someone.
2> Compile a must call list with contact information for your accountant, lawyer and other financial professionals who need to be made aware of a spouse’s passing
3> Share passwords. AARP suggest a master list of all user names and passwords so your spouse can still have access after your death. I am not a fan of master lists that can be found by who knows who. We suggest a password keeper such as One Password or Last Pass where you can store all of your login information and keep it secure with one master password that you both know. The subscriptions to these apps are very affordable and a much safer way of saving the information and updating it as you have reason to change passwords along the way.
4> Update beneficiaries. Make sure your beneficiary designation of your pension, 401(k), IRA, brokerage accounts and life insurance policies still reflect your wishes. You need designated beneficiaries on your IRA accounts. They cannot be put in a trust or addressed in a will alone. You MUST name beneficiaries, real people, on your IRA accounts.
5> Check your credit cards. Make sure your name is on the credit card account.
Think about these first 5 and act on the ones you need to today. Another 5 will be in tomorrows post.