Daughter Shares 5 Basic Steps She Wishes Her Mom Had Taken Before She Passed That Would've Made The Aftermath So Much Easier

Grief is a storm with practicalities to be managed by those left behind.

sad woman Liza Summer / Pexels

No one is ever fully prepared for the day they lose a loved one, especially their primary caregivers, like parents, grandparents, or other close relatives.

Yet after we lose a loved one, our world continues, and we have to pick up the shattered pieces of a life cut short.

A daughter shared 5 basic steps she wished her mom had taken before she passed:

“If you are a parent, I am begging you to stay and watch this video,” Katie Caruthers shared in a TikTok video. “I don’t care how old your kids are. They could be infants, they could be 50 years old. This is information you need to know.”


She shared heartbreaking personal news, explaining that she unexpectedly lost her mom a few weeks earlier.


After I recorded this, I thought of about 400 more things you can do, but these are the basics. Hopefully it can help prevent someone from having to go through this. Take care of each other🤍

♬ original sound - Katie💋

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“On top of grieving and trying to process the worst trauma of my life, there are also a lot of legal things that I am having to do and take care of that could have been avoided,” she said.

“I do not blame my mother for not getting this stuff done,” she clarified. “She was young. This was unexpected. Nobody thought that this was gonna happen.”

Caruthers shared that her mom was “actually in the middle of getting some of these things taken care of right before she died.”

The grieving daughter revealed her reason for making this post, saying, “I want to help anyone I can to avoid this for their children.”

1. Assign beneficiaries to bank accounts

The first thing Caruthers advised parents to do was “Go to the bank or wherever you have your checking account and put your children as ‘PODS,’ which stands for “Payable On Death.”


“It’s essentially a beneficiary so that if you were to die, whatever funds are in your account go to your children or whoever you put as your PODS,” she explained.

sad woman looking down Thnh Phng / Pexels

She explained how this act can “Make a huge difference as far as your retirement account or your 401K.”

“Make sure you have a beneficiary on those accounts,” she said before revealing “the one bit of good news in this entire process.”


“My brother and I were lucky … When my mom retired, she had to put beneficiaries, so we were on there; we were in the system,” Caruthers explained. 

“What she didn’t do was put our updated addresses on those documents, so it wasn’t until I called the retirement company that I found out they had already sent us packets for the beneficiary disbursement, but they sent them to the wrong address.”

“We would never have known if I hadn’t called,” she said, describing the bureaucratic nightmare she's living amidst her grief.

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2. Have hard, practical conversations

“I’m also gonna beg you to please, have the hard conversations with your kids,” Caruthers said. “If you have life insurance, where the important documents are, what the passwords are to your computer, your bank accounts, everything.”

mother and daughter having a difficult talk Mangostar Studio / Canva Pro

The grieving daughter acknowledged the inherent difficulty of these discussions, noting, “No one wants to have that conversation, ‘If I die, here’s what needs to happen.’ You need to have those conversations.”


“My brother and I were left having no idea what to do,” she said. “We are learning as we go and it is awful.”

3. Share life insurance details

“I have no idea if my mom had life insurance,” Caruthers said. “There’s no database, you can’t just go to a website and find out if somebody had life insurance.”

She explained that she had to call each specific company to ask if her mother had a policy.

“They will not reach out to you because they don’t want to pay those life insurance policies,” she explained.

@meccamilli Replying to @BIG Britt Alright sis, here are the basics that you need to know about the different styles of life insurance policies. And like my dad used to say, yall better write notes and memorize these key words like you memorize them rap songs. 😂 lets gooo! Class is in session 📝📝📝 #lifeinsurance #buildwealth #insurancepolicy #termlifeinsurance #wholelifeinsurance #indexeduniversallifeinsurance #investingsecrets #generations ♬ original sound - Mecca Millions

Caruthers shared how that lack of knowledge affected her personal finances, saying, “We just paid $5,000 for a funeral out of pocket because, as far as we know, my mom didn’t have life insurance. If she did, she didn’t tell us; we have no idea who it’s through.”


RELATED: My Mother Has Been Death-Cleaning For Decades

4. Organize passwords in a safe place

Caruthers shared that her mother “was very predictable and had the same passwords for 20 years, so I was able to get onto her computer and log into 90 to 95% of her websites and see what we were working with as far as mortgage, her car, her bills.”

“Make sure someone in your family knows how to access that information,” she insisted.

5. Set up a trust tied to a will

The last step Caruthers shared was “more complicated and expensive, but I promise you, it will be worth it.”

She told parents to “Set up a trust for your kids which is tied to a will.”


“I don’t care how little you have,” she said. “You need to have a trust because it’s going to keep your kids from having to go through the probate process.”

She described probate as " a very long legal process that could last a year, it could last a year and a half. You have to get lawyers, and it goes through the process of dividing up that person’s assets.”

sad woman reading cottonbro studio / Pexels


“My brother and I have a very simple case,” Caruthers said. “We’re not fighting on anything. We’re not contesting anything. We’ve both agreed to a 50-50 split, so it should be really quick and easy, right?”

“No,” she said. “It’s still very complicated and it will take a very long time for us to get through this to be able to access assets, funds — all of that will not be in our possession for a very long time.”

She clarified that the issue isn’t about wanting her mom’s money or her inheritance. It’s that they also inherited their mom’s debt.

“We have to figure out how to sell her house, even though I’ve never bought one, to pay off the mortgage,” she said. “We have to deal with all her debt. We have to deal with all these costs.”


Caruthers expressed her frustration over having to deal with her mom’s estate while having no idea what that actually entailed.

“We need ownership of those assets and that money to be able to deal with this,” she said.

Her final words of guidance were, “Contact a lawyer. Ask them about setting up a trust. It is going to save your loved ones so much time, so much grief, so much money.”

“It is going to make it so much easier on them when they are already going through one of the worst things they will ever go through,” Caruthers said before revealing her most vulnerable missive.

“I feel like I haven’t even been allowed to grieve what I saw and what I experienced and now who I have to live without because I had to go immediately into business mode, and it has been awful,” she said.

@themrspedersen Please meet with an attorney and make the grieving process a little more simple for loved ones…. #w#willt#truste#estateplanningm#moneytokm#moneytipsi#inheritance ♬ original sound - Rachel Pedersen | Social Media

“I know it’s daunting. I know it’s annoying. Nobody wants to do it, but it’s necessary,” she said.

Caruthers ended by expressing how deeply she wants other people to take care of the nitty-gritty details, if only because she doesn’t want anyone to feel the scale of pain she’s feeling.

Grief is a storm, one that ebbs and flows. It is never linear, even though we might desperately wish for it to be.


Caruthers' experience is heartbreaking, yet her words of guidance can help other families mitigate the pain that comes with this incredibly human form of loss. 

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Alexandra Blogier is a writer on YourTango's news and entertainment team. She covers social issues, pop culture, and all things to do with the entertainment industry.