RED ALERT – What happens when you are gone?

The regular readers of More Than Money Saving blog know how important it is to run a home budget.  How important it is for the whole family to participate in budgeting. It would seem that if all of you play the same game, there is nothing to worry about because you have common goals …

Well, here comes the key question “Did you think about what happens when you are gone?” or  your wife/husband/partner is gone? What are the consequences for not taking the right steps in advance? You can read today’s article to learn more…

Potential situations when your absence may seriously impact the family life are many; ranging from very serious illnesses that may disconnect you from your family life for a few weeks, to your death. For each of these situations you should prepare your family.

Unfortunately, death of a family member is one of the most likely crisis situations. Why? Because it will eventually happen in any family, sooner or later we all have to pass away. Doesn’t matter who will die first; you or your spouse/partner. But in any of these situations, those who remain have to manage and live on.

Problems that usually start then are not the result of the loss of the person you were emotionally related to only, but may also happen for financial reasons. I am not a psychologist, so I will not comment or analyse the emotional aspects of losing a loved one.

You will have get handle on matters that person no longer alive has managed. So, the first advice I can offer – both of you should engage in all things you do from the start. Do not split duties for “his or her” parts, because in case of a tragedy the brutal reality will quickly verify the foolishness of such approach.

One of the first things you should think about is providing a solution for family financial support. What is going to happen when the sole family provider dies? Or when one who was earning much more than the other one has passed away while the family cost of living stays on the high level?  You need to prepare for such situations. The best solution is to build in advance a large financial cushion; I wrote about it in one of the previous articles: What is Financial Cushion?

The financial cushion will allow you to safely maintain liquidity and budget balance. It will protect you while you re-arrange your life during months following a fatal situation. So, if you have not done it yet and did not create your emergency funds, then start working on it immediately, because you do not know who and when will have to use it …

But of course…

Money it is not everything

Even if you run a budget together (as a couple), you have some savings every month, you keep the cost of living at a reasonable level, you have no debts, you invest income surplus and you have your financial cushion, there is a lot of other things you have to take care of. There are many more or less important issues to write down, i.e. at least two people have to know how to run all equipment at home – power generator, air conditioner, water pumps etc.  Both of you need to know how to connect it and not burn the entire house installation for example. Or even simple thing like how to turn the power on and off.

I know, you may always ask someone for a help or pay for the service. But not always you’ll find someone willing to help right away and not always you’ll have extra money to pay for a particular service. Especially in a rush crisis situation.

Sometimes there is a situation where you have asked your partner to learn how to use something at your home, i.e generator. And he/she didn’t do it. Maybe because of lack of time, but nevertheless, what to do in such situation?  Days go by and he still doesn’t know how to operate it, while nobody knows the day or the hour of potential disaster …

Count on someone to help?

No. You need to take a piece of paper or make an electronic document and step by step write down all necessary procedures. This will make a book of instructions in case you are gone. It may turn out to be a priceless document. Unfortunately, you may not learn how valuable it is going to be after you are gone, but that should not stop you from writing it up.

It is your moral duty to prepare your family for all emergency situations, even if they do not participate initially in creation of your family survival files. Maybe when they see how important this subject is to you they start to participate.


What else should be in your red folder?

Red folder is the place where you place all important documents. In case you are seriously ill or you died, your partner or family would know what to do. All important documents like:


It is very popular in Canada to write the Will; it manage many formal and legal issues, but not all. The Will is a very good solution to deal with estate matters, i.e. establishing guardians for your children, succession matters, who and how inherits what, and other similar important information.

The situation can be a bit more complicated when you often make a variety of financial decisions, i.e. one day your money is here, on the next day you deposit them to some other account or buy some policy. This may cause a need for frequent updates of your Will, which is not practical and can be expensive. But at the end of the day you may have to handle it.



A full list of all deposits, policies, securities, shares, bonds, all brokerage accounts, etc. including life insurance. It is good to add to each document some notes describing the contacts and/or account manager, so your family can easily communicate with someone familiar with the issue.


That list should describe all of your bank accounts, safe deposits, various types of valuables, i.e. physical gold, coins or works of art that are out of the house.


Assets are not everything. Your family must also know about all your potential debts and obligations. You have to make a complete list of credits, loans, credit cards, etc., so that you family will be prepared to pay them off (if necessary, like when the debts were not insured for example). And just like in the point above, you should add information about the contacts in each instance so your family can communicate with person familiar with your account. Do not forget about things like internet provider; phone and hydro company, etc. Especially, if contracts are in your name only.


Birth certificates, marriage certificates, and all similar documents you consider important.



First of all, it should be in a safe place and not accessible to unauthorized person. Your file will contain a lot of sensitive information and you would not want this information to fall into wrong hands.


It is undoubtedly the most convenient option, because you always have it handy. But somebody can break into your house and steal the documents. Of course, you can buy a safe, or if you already have one, you can keep your documents there. It is an expensive option, not 100% theft proof, but always better than keeping these documents in a drawer. The use of safes or different types of fireproof boxes has a lot of advantages too. In case of a fire or flood, documents stored there will not be destroyed.


Away from home, much safer option, but a monthly fee is required for this service.


The current technological situation offers probably one of the best solution. Not only it is free, fire- and waterproof 😉 but also gives you access to your documents 24/7 from anywhere in the world. With proper encryption, there should be no problem with the security of your data.


Together with your partner try to be co-owners and co-managers of all your life and home issues. This will allow you to share this knowledge, discuss all necessary procedures and generally make things easy 🙂

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Thank you and wish you a successful budgeting. If you have any questions – just comment 🙂

Cheers and see you with a next article,

your Kinga

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