Dying to Share: Preparing for the Death of a Loved One

Updated: 11/11/2013 7:32 PM KSTP.com By: Brad Sattin

Most of us will never really be emotionally prepared for the death of a loved one. But what you do right now can save you and your family months of aggravation later.

Dale Jensen was married for four years when his wife suddenly died of a heart attack. His nightmare lasted for months. He remembers the day he lost his 46-year-old wife, Patti. "At 11:00, we were joking and talking on email about a vacation we were gonna take that summer, and 3 hours later, I'm planning a funeral."

Like many couples, Dale and Patti had many separate accounts. Dale didn't have her passwords, pins, or even a will. "You don't think about it. You don't say 'gosh, we need a will, cause I might die tomorrow.'"

It took Dale months of investigating before he finally got the information he needed to settle Patti's accounts and claim beneficiary information. He's convinced there are other accounts of hers that he will never discover.

There's also the story of John and Gail Naffziger, who prepared and regularly reviewed their 100-page trust. They thought they were ready. Until earlier this year, when 84-year-old John died of a heart attack.

Gail quickly learned she wasn't nearly as prepared as she thought. Their trust had contradictory information, state laws had changed, and even worse, Gail was given some terrible advice from her former attorney.

"The main thing was, do not tell your children what you're doing. This turned out to be probably the worst advice I've ever had in my life," she tells us. The confusion led to fighting among some family members. Ten months later, the family is still sorting out John's last wishes, and Gail's daughter says, as a result, her mom hasn't even had time to properly grieve.

Can you relate to this story? Share your stories below: