There was no last will.
My husband and I knew we’d have our work cut out for us. My father-in-law’s death in November 2020 was a sudden end to a long-term illness, for which he and his children were unprepared. He didn’t have Covid-19, but the hospital’s pandemic-related restrictions had ruled out in-person visits, making it harder to understand his condition and manage his care.
We bought plane tickets to Florida for the next day when we learned his health was in rapid decline. We thought we would land right before he was transferred to hospice care, where my husband, Ryan, would be able to visit his father. But he didn’t make it through that night.
The next day, we boarded our flight as planned. What was supposed to be a last reunion became a recovery mission. Ryan tried to sleep while I made lists, based on Google search results and AARP articles, of what we needed to find. A last will, an inventory of bank accounts, credit cards, retirement accounts. By the time we touched down in the beachside town, we had a road map scribbled on scrap paper.
But we didn’t realize how much was left undone. Not only was there no last will, there was no inventory of assets. We didn’t even know where his wallet was. We had to start from scratch.