5 Important Steps to Protect Your Family

by |


id you know that on average women live longer than men? This is true for most countries around the world. Most people just dismiss this as a statistic, but there’s actually wisdom here worth acting on.

A few years back I heard a story about a man who had just died. He was in his early 40s, a husband to his wife of 20 years, a dad to two kids in middle school. He was in great health and wasn’t one to take unnecessary risks. One day he went to work and there was an accident. He never made it home.

Thankfully, unknown to his family, he was prepared. When his wife went to their safe deposit box for the first time to get their important papers, she found everything she needed, explained in clear detail, along with a letter from her husband. She was so relieved. She went, in an instant, from immense levels of stress about what to do, wondering if they’d have enough money to survive, to feeling a peace and clarity amidst the sadness, knowing that she and her family had the time they needed to heal.

This story sunk in as I heard it. It made me start asking, “What if that were me? Would my family be okay?” At that moment I decided that I would do whatever I had to do to make sure they would be. Here are a few of the steps that I took. I invite you to take them too.

  1. Make sure you have life insurance

  2. Short and simple, this makes sure your family has time to process and adjust should you pass. Ideally, this should be 10-12 times your yearly income, because your surviving family members could invest it in a relatively safe way and have your income replaced for years to come. Check out this calculator to find out how much coverage you need and what it’ll cost you. (A healthy male in his 30s can get $500,000 of coverage for under $40 per month as of this writing).

  3. Write down what you know

  4. In some homes, the husband handles the daily details of finances, and in others the wife does. Either way, there’s a lot of information that lives in somebody’s head. From accounts and policies to passwords and combinations, it’s all important. In order to get it down on paper, I’d suggest using something like Dave Ramsey’s Legacy Drawer or Eric Dewey’s Big Book of Everything to get started.

  5. Decide what type of care you want in case you can’t make your own decisions

  6. When loved ones are worried about losing you, the last thing you want is to burden them with the decision of whether or not to keep you on life support, whether to make you comfortable or keep you alive, or any other difficult choices.

    You can work with a lawyer to draft a Living Will (sometimes formally called an Advance Health Care Directive), or you can get started with this letter template from Stanford University. It’s simple and to the point, but it’ll relieve a ton of stress for your loved ones if it’s ever actually needed.

  7. Make sure your family knows you love them

  8. A good way to share how you feel and give them something to hold on to once you’re gone is to write letters to your spouse and kids (and any others you choose) to be opened should something happen to you. You can give these to a trusted friend, keep them in a safe or safe deposit box, or keep them with your important papers. You can write your own, and if you’re not sure where to start, check out Stanford University’s Letter Project for templates.

    I’d encourage you to take your time with these letters. Tell your family what they mean to you. Share your feelings for them and push yourself to be as open as you can, even if it’s a bit uncomfortable. Give yourself a few hours and somewhere you can be alone. Mine took several hours and was hands-down the hardest thing I’ve ever written. I cried more in those hours than I have in a long time. It’s not an easy thing to do, but it’s so worth it.

    “Tell your family what they mean to you. Share your feelings for them and push yourself to be as open as you can, even if it’s a bit uncomfortable.”

    Share Tweet

    No matter what you do, anything is better than nothing, and if something were to happen to you, your family would treasure your heartfelt words in that difficult time.

  9. Once you’ve taken all of these steps, put everything in a big three-ring binder somewhere safe that your family knows how to get to

  10. If it’s a safe, share the combination or make sure your family knows where the key is. Having everything together makes things easy (and it’s a perk to have all of your important papers organized and in one place in everyday life too!).

Most people in their 20s don’t think about this stuff. Most people in their 40s barely dabble. It’s an emotionally trying process and takes a bit of time logistically. It’s a pain to organize information, writing those types of letters is one of the hardest things you can do, and choosing end-of-life medical decisions so your family doesn’t have to can be difficult as well. But if you think about the consequences your family would face should something happen to you (if you don’t prepare) it’s hard to NOT get it done.

Though I hope Jess will never need to open our emergency binder, I’m so glad it would be there for her if she needed it. The hope is that it would make the transition just a bit easier. She wouldn’t have to worry about papers, important information, money, or knowing the details of the medical treatment I’d want. It’s all there, with a letter giving her encouragement, love, and hopefully the strength to power through.

What steps have you taken to make sure your family is cared for? Tell us about them in the comments below…

Want to dig deeper?

Check out Radiant Marriage Academy, our free 16-lesson course!


(Fully free. No catch.)

adam & Jess

Hi, we’re Adam & Jess--we’re so glad you’re here!

Our marriage got off to a rocky start in 2014 and quickly escalated into a full-out crisis. God healed us, and now we're inviting you to walk with us as we all journey toward healthier marriages together!

7 Days to an Awesome Marriage

Check out our free eBook and connect with your spouse!

7 Days to a More Intimate Marriage

Follow Us

Treasuring the Tiny Moments

The goal for the day was simple...Get food for dinner and prepare a delicious meal for our friends who were coming over (while still social distancing). I had gone to the store and had everything that I needed...except for the fish. I was planning on making fish with...

Choosing Your Spouse Over Your Checklist

We published an image of a quote on our social media not too long ago, and it struck me in just how profound it is. The quote, by D.L. Moody, is this: “If I wanted to find out whether a man was a Christian, I wouldn’t go to his minister. I would go and ask his...

How to Love Your Spouse Through Their Rough Day

There I was in my car in the garage processing through the events of my day. You know those days where everything just seems to go wrong? This was that day. From dropping a smoothie onto the floor in the morning to having a rough interaction with a friend to work...

7 Game-Changer Questions to Fight Disconnection in Your Marriage

Have you ever gotten to a place in your marriage where you felt completely disconnected from your spouse...and didn't have a clue how you got there? In these times, it can be so easy to ignore the problem and become apathetic. In the moment, ignoring things seems like...

10 At-Home Activities to Do as a Couple

Let’s be honest. The past few weeks have been a bit insane. Have you been going a bit stir crazy? Have you craved being with your friends or family? Do you miss hugs? Are you finding yourself losing track of days and time? Us too. In the midst of being under “shelter...

4 Ways to Take Charge of Anxiety

Army. Green. Couch. Can you picture it? Now hold onto that image and I’ll come back to it. If you have read my posts for any length of time, you know that I struggle with anxiety. It wasn’t until recently, however, that I realized how much I can fixate on things…...

Faith in the Midst of Uncertainty

I t was dinner time when we found out that Washington had issued a “shelter in place” mandate. While we live in Idaho, Adam works in Washington. And Washington was the first of the two to issue the mandate. Like many of you who have these state rules right now, we...

7 Ways to Grow Your Marriage During COVID

This last week has been insane. I feel like I woke up on Friday last week and the world had started to end. Grocery stores were being emptied, in-person church services had been canceled, schools were closed, and my graduate program was put on hold...and I couldn’t...

Abandoned, Alone, and Afraid

Abandoned, alone, and afraid. These three words have been the theme of my feelings over the last month or so. We're in this weird stage of life where so much about our current situation feels unsettled and nothing is secure. Our finances, not having a home base, our...

Building Momentum in Your Marriage

Having a great marriage isn’t based on one moment, one action, or one success, but rather a pattern of right actions (and corrected wrong actions) over time. This may seem obvious--doing the right thing is commonly best practice--but the effects are less obvious. It’s...

Want to build an awesome marriage?

Get started with Radiant Marriage Academy, a 16-lesson online course to help you build an awesome marriage.

The best part? Thanks to our patrons, it's completely FREE. No credit card. No upsell. No catch. Just great, free marriage tools to help you make your marriage awesome.

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Pin It on Pinterest