How a wise and loving Physician can prepare his/her spouse to be a widow/er.

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“Every year I update the documents and re-organize the dream team of advisors my wife and kids can lean on for the next several months or years after I die,” says Tetreault. “It take purposeful planning and I have to stay organized and on top of the documents but I keep them labeled and in one place, so that helps a lot. This [annual one page letter] is by far the greatest gift I can give my wife and kids after I’m gone and gives them the certainty that it’s going to be okay. Each year I write a letter to my wife and each kid and to the executor of my will. I write this letter because besides our photos and our memories together, it’s the last tangible piece of evidence and gift I can give them. And, it softens the blow with some family members that may create stress for the primary beneficiaries of our estate. This letter is not only an expression of my love for them it’s also meant to provide assistance and guidance to my family about items not covered in my Will. It does not change my Will but it will be a parting gift to make the days and months ahead easier to navigate.”

By Michael Tetreault, Editor, Concierge Medicine Today | Host, Concierge Medicine Forum

I turned 45 this year.

I am not naive to the fact that may make me still just a kid to many of you reading this.

I’m also a parent of 3 kids, husband whom is actively seeking to please and charm his wife despite my many flaws and mistakes.

The Most Overlooked Person In Medicine, Your Spouse

As a husband, a Patient to my Doctor, a worrier about all things related to my aging parents I came across a few pieces of helpful advice I thought I would share this week.

“A wise and loving husband prepares his wife to be a widow.” ~Jeff, Author

I’ve heard this advice before echoed on radio shows, podcasts and financial planning commercials on occasion.

But this year it really stuck with me and having the pleasure to serving you, Physicians and getting to know your spouses’ over all of these years I thought I’d sent this piece of advice out into the universe of healthcare, your inbox and the small corners of your practice and hope it sticks.

One day is going to come for all of us. Moreover, taking some time over the next month or two and putting together passwords, insurance documents, legacy planning contacts is going to be appreciated when the funeral is over and the work begins.

Hey, I don’t want to think about it either. Imagine trying to navigate life insurance policies, safety deposit boxes, probate court, family members and the operations of a business all the while attempting to grieve your loss.

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I want to leave my family, my wife and my kids with something that will help them navigate the next few months or couple of years. I want to leave them with one last gift, of sorts.

How your staff can better support a Physicians Spouse

You and I know that there’s so many details to your life, your practice and your finances that your spouse will now have to juggle.

Here’s some helpful advice I got from one of my personal mentors. His name is Jeff.

“I provide an annual financial report to my family. The week between Christmas and New Year’s Day, I write an annual update on our finances and give it to my wife and her Dad. This includes an update on investments, account numbers and passwords, who to contact and suggestions on what to do with each investment.”


This might sound difficult, especially if you have family members who are challenging.

We’ve all got those in our family tree too!

Perhaps this sounds depressing, but it’s also time.

Before you sit down and write a one page letter build a team of trusted advisers for your spouse.

Anna Byrne, the founder of the Eckert Byrne law firm, based in Cambridge, Mass., and an estate planning attorney with over 25 years of experience, a widow herself, wrote the recently published book, “A Widow’s Guide,” to help women through the first year after losing a spouse. She writes “Once you have organized all necessary documents, you may not know where to go from there. That’s why it’s a good idea to build a team of trusted financial and legal advisers to help settle your partner’s estate. Your team should address all of the steps for completing probate and administering your partner’s estate. Taking the time to vet attorneys and advisers to choose the best qualified professionals may help you avoid additional hardships down the road.”
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Here are some of the items I’ve put together in the one page letter to and for my wife IN ONE SPACE and ensure she knows where and what to do in the event something happens to me.

  • Name and contact information of our Tax Accountant
  • iPhone access code
  • Insurance Policy numbers and insurance contact information.
  • Most recent bank statement(s), pension information, real estate deeds, Social Security information, car titles, annuity contracts, investment accounts, retirement account statements such as from IRAs and 401(k)s, life insurance policies (check with your late partner’s employer to see if there are any group benefits), mortgage statements, credit card statements and any other information pertaining to things of value and/or investments, stock holdings or policies.
  • Bank Account and Savings Account Numbers
  • List of updated usernames, logins and passwords
  • Facebook logins
  • iPhone passwords logins
  • Kids College savings accounts information and logins
  • Email, Outlook and/or Gmail account logins
  • Download of internet password and username history from browser
  • Access to the past seven years of our tax returns in chronological order
  • Copy of end of life documents (eg. Will, Trust, POA, Healthcare Directive, durable POA), etc.
  • The location of your signed will, all estate planning documents, any trusts, buy/sell agreements, titles and/or extraneous writings incorporated in your will.
  • USB with all of these documents
  • How to request access to a deceased family member’s Apple account
  • One-page contact list with phone numbers of people to notify/contact and purpose of each person on list as to why they should/need to be notified of your death.
  • Notifications to friends, relatives, business associates and colleagues in charitable or civic groups you actively in the past year have worked with or for. It’s helpful to identify by name those persons whom should be contacted upon your death, noting any particular requests or messages they should be given, and list their current address and phone numbers.
  • A copy of your “Tangible Personal Property Memorandum” in the event you have lots of personal items you want to pass to specific people amongst your family and friends.
  • One final thank you note, pre-written, to those who are tasked with handling your estate (eg. Executor; Pastor; Brothers and Sisters; etc.)
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Clark Howard, author and consumer advocate emphasized some additional points you may want to include in your letter you update/write to your spouse and/or kids each year:

  • Funeral and burial arrangements: Where, by whom, what kind and at what cost
  • Anatomical gifts: Identify the nature and location of any anatomical gift declarations you have made.
  • Location of your safe-deposit box and its key.
  • Memorials and contributions: Identify what organizations or institutions might be appropriate recipients of memorials or charitable donations made in your memory.
  • Preparation of obituary: Should your obituary be prepared in advance and be updated periodically? To which newspaper should it be sent?
  • Medical and hospital coverages and location of the policies.
  • Social Security and Veterans’ Administration benefits: Identify current or potential benefits.
  • Life insurance: Indicate where policies are located and what steps should be taken to collect policy proceeds.
  • Location and explanation of title documents and other records relating to your assets. Include deeds, stocks, bonds, bank accounts and deposits, retirement plans and vehicle titles.
  • Identify obligations involving periodic payments, such as your home mortgage, car loans and other debts, including amount and to whom payable.
  • Identify your attorney and professional advisers (including your accountant, broker, trust officer, and insurance agent) who you currently use or recommend.
  • Key employees and business friends to keep business operating until sale. The value of an ongoing business is much greater than a closed one!

All of this day-to-day stuff organized and in one place is an expression of my love for them. It is my gift to those I love now that I’m gone.

Here’s some additional insights and I personally think are really helpful articles, courtesy of consumer advocate, Clark Howard and AARP‘s grief section, in the event you want to do a little more reading for yourself. And, like we always say around here … “It’s no longer about being the best Doctor in the world anymore. It’s about being the best Doctor, husband, spouse, father, wife, FOR the world, FOR your family, FOR your kids and FOR your grand kids.”



DISCLAIMER AND USE: In no event is this information considered medical, legal, tax, financial, accounting or other professional advice (Please see full disclaimer below). This Podcast Is Subject to the Terms and Conditions of Use ( and is recorded/hosted by Concierge Medicine Today, LLC. Concierge Medicine Today, LLC., our representatives, agents or employees accept no responsibility or liability for direct, indirect, special, incidental or consequential damages or financial costs or claims made by the Physician(s) interviewed or our guests.

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