In Case Of Death


I woke up this morning to an empty bed and a 7 year old gently patting me on the head.

“Can you get my breakfast, Dad’s left, he’s gone to work.”

By the tone of his voice and his initial inflection, I could tell that breakfast was his main concern. A quick glance at my watch told me it was 5 minutes past 6.

“Has he gone to work or for a bike ride?” G has often left the house by 6.30 for the office, but his current MAMIL (Middle Aged Man In Lycra) phase has had him displaying some peculiar morning behaviour. It seemed strange that he hadn’t woken me with a kiss goodbye if he’d gone to the office.

Over the next 30 minutes with the help of some conclusion jumping and a keen desire to head straight to the worst case scenario, I had G dead on the road. We’d had a conversation about how dangerous it was on the roads over the weekend which I felt sure was going to be the lead point in the discussion on the irony of “we were only just talking about…” well that, and the topic of today’s post.

Today’s post may well be the most important one I’ve written, except I didn’t really write it. Quite a few people did. One of those people was an expat woman whose husband had a heart attack and died in her arms. Another one of my co-writers is a friend who discovered her husband was having an affair with their housekeeper. Although both women were married to very different men, they both found themselves in very similar situations. Situations that could happen to anyone, and situations you, me and any other woman living an expat life needs to think about.

There’s too much for one post so I’m breaking them into two. This one is all about making sure you’re covered in the case of an emergency or death. Please feel free to share the tips or print it out and put it on your fridge.

Make sure you have a blank check/cheque with your husband’s signature on it.

It sounds ridiculous but I cannot stress how important this is if you are living in the Middle East. When my friend’s husband died, her bank accounts were immediately frozen. Frozen. That’s what happens here. If she had her time again, upon his death she would have gone straight to the bank and accessed her money, it would have saved her two years of court appearances and a shed load in lawyers fees.

Make sure your will is effective in the country you’re in.

Even if you have an up to date will, it will not be seen as legal in certain parts of the Middle East if it is not in Arabic.  Get your will and any official documents translated to the language of the country you’re in. Keep a copy at work, and one with a close friend/neighbour.

Keep a contact list on your refrigerator.

I have my neighbour listed as our emergency contact but she has  never met my parents. If something was to happen to G and I at the same time she doesn’t know my parent’s names, their phone numbers or perhaps even the name of the town they live in. If anything was to happen to G and I on the way home from a dinner or a parent/teacher night and we were hospitalized I would want someone to contact our families immediately. Make sure you have Granny’s full name, number, Skype, FaceTime, listed on the refrigerator. Leave an explanation for a friend “If anything happens ring my mother/brother…”.  If you have children, you need to have made it very clear where and who you would like them to go with while they wait for your family to arrive.

Know your bank account details.

It’s surprising how many partners (both men and women) leave the bank details solely to the other partner. About a year ago G created an “if everything turns pear shaped” document. It has every detail/password/phone number and account we have.

Keep enough money aside for a flight home and a couple of month’s basic living for you and your children.

Do you have an idea in your head on where you would go? Always have an idea. It’s much better to make a clear plan now while it’s just an idea not a scrambled reality. Could you really live with your parents for six months? Would you be better off at your sisters? Would you send children to school? Would you fly home with pets?

Remember, thinking about all of these things will not make it happen. It’s crazy to put your head in the sand and hope for the best. Have a plan in place knowing that you probably will never have to use it, but have a plan.

What have we missed? Do you have tips to share?

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