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If your spouse died today, would you be prepared?

The death of a spouse is a loss no one wants to face, but unfortunately, it is a tragedy that you may have to deal with.
If the worst happens, it’s important to have a plan in place to help work through what can be an emotional and difficult time. Here are 5 things you can do now to help be prepared, so that if you or your spouse suffers an untimely loss, you have the measures in place to help you cope.

1. Compile your insurance information, including important telephone numbers. Find out what sort of proof your insurer requires in order to claim benefits so you will know what to request from the hospital or authorities. Gather whatever paperwork you can now, and keep it in a safe and easily accessible place.

2. Create a living will so you or your spouse won’t be forced to make difficult decisions about continued care. If either of you becomes incapacitated and unable to voice your wishes, a living will provides guidance to medical care personnel about the level of care that should be administered and the types of interventions that can be made to extend life. A living will ensures you receive the treatment you want, without burdening your loved ones to make life or death decisions on your behalf.

3. Enroll in an accelerated benefit program if your life insurance plan offers one. This feature pays a percentage of the death benefit, given certain circumstances, prior to the insured’s death. This lump sum can be put towards expensive medical treatments, paying down your mortgage or even a vacation so that you and your spouse can spend precious time together.
 
4. Request a life insurance amount for yourself and for your spouse that meets your family’s needs. Even if one of you earns substantially more than the other, or if one of you earns nothing at all, it’s your combined lifestyle that needs to be preserved. There’s no one size fits all approach, but insurance industry experts recommend 10-times the amount of annual income earned for each person.1 With an amount less than that, you may leave yourself and your spouse vulnerable to financial distress in the midst of an emotional crisis.
 
5. Prepare to ask for help from friends, family and support groups. Find out if your community offers a widows’ and widowers’ support group, and be open to joining when you feel able. Grieving is a multi-step process that can take years to work through. Losing your partner is a devastating experience, but with the help of loved ones and the care of professionals, it is a tragedy that can be overcome.

1 “How much life insurance do I need?” Bankrate.com, May 21, 2020

Group Insurance coverages are issued by The Prudential Insurance Company of America, a Prudential Financial company, Newark, NJ.

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