Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Not For Widows Only - What Every Married Woman Needs To Know

By Linda Della Donna

You love your man. And he loves you back.

You get married. And live happily ever after. Forever.

In a perfect world that is what I wish for every woman in the universe. But Think again.

Nobody lives forever. Statistics show wives outlive husbands.

Now that I have your attention, there is 1 thing you need to know in case you outlive your husband:

1. Got will?

No. I'm not talking about Will, the man next door, I mean the piece of paper naming you executrix of your husband’s estate when he dies.


1. Not enough -- Not if DH has been married before.

1. If you are Wife Number Two, Three, or Four, keep reading. Wife Number One, leave the room.

1. Ask to see DH’s separation papers, the thing what was merged into and made a part of his divorce decree.

1. Do not take no for an answer.

1. Read it.

1. Check for a clause -- ESTATE BENEFIT FOR CHILD -- ANYTHING resembling the following language:

…in full force and effect a valid last will and testament which provides that if the Child survives such party the Child shall receive an amount equal to one-half (1/2) of such party’s net estate. The net estate shall mean the gross estate as determined for Federal estate purposes (or if such estate does not require a Federal estate tax return, then as if such return was required) less all claims, administration expenses and taxes. In lieu of an outright devise and/or bequest, such party may establish a trust for the benefit of the Child with a corpus of such amount, income to be payable annually, or at such more frequent intervals as the trustee may elect, to the Child until the Child attains a specified age, provided, however that no such trust shall suspend the ownership of such property beyond the Child attaining the age of twenty-five with respect to one-half thereof and beyond the Child attaining the age of thirty with the respect to the balance thereof. If income is payable to the Child until the Child attains a specified age or sooner dies, then…

Mumbo jumbo legalese. Perhaps. And trying to decipher it makes interpreting hieroglyphics in the Rosetta Stone easy.

But…And here’s where the world of moonlight and roses ends and naked reality begins:

1. If you see these words - or any words with a hint of their odor - I urge you, no, I command you, RUN, don’t walk, to an attorney.

1. Don’t say I can’t afford a lawyer.

1. When it comes to this document, you can’t afford not to hire a lawyer. You will need advice about what necessary steps to take to prevent future heartache and possible financial ruin in the event of your husband’s death.

1. If lawyer man says you got nothing to worry about, find another lawyer.

1. In simple talk: Any real property with your husband’s name on it, any savings accounts, any checking accounts with your husband’s name on it, the house you live in with his name on the title, including but not limited to the life insurance policy he took out on his life naming you as beneficiary, is subject to debate, up for grabs. And regardless of his verbal instructions, it can be ordered by a judge to be taken from you.

1. Do not be fooled by the “Child” word in a divorce decree, thinking it refers to a bottle sucking, fair-haired angel baby under the ages of 18, 21, or 25. Not so.

You say what’s with this writer? You don’t understand. You say you have a good relationship with your stepchild, and your husband has a good relationship with his ex-wife. They would never do anything to harm you, especially after he’s dead. Well, if you truly believe this, then I got a bridge in Tarrytown, New York for sale.

1. When it comes to a dead person’s money and somebody else thinking they got a claim to it, people do strange things once the earth’s been tamped on his grave. It’s never too early for any married woman to take action and protect her assets.

Of course, no happily married woman wants to think about burying her husband. On the long list of ugly, that one rockets to the top. But if you take my advice and learn what every woman should know as outlined above, you will be prepared.

If the time should ever come, and I hope it never does, you’ll have peace of mind knowing you acted sooner rather than later.

Linda Della Donna is a freelance writer who lives 20 miles north from where the World Trade Center used to be with her small dog, Izzy and his little cat, Tux. Della Donna supports new widows through the grief process. You can learn more about Della Donna and receive a copy of her free ebook, A Treasury of Quotations, by visiting her website - Simply fill out the opt-in box and subscribe. Della Donna has a blog - - Need an interview? Perhaps you have a different writing assignment. You can contact Della Donna at She’s waiting to hear from you.
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