08/14/2012 05:17 pm ET Updated Oct 14, 2012

The Topic that Leaves This Baby Boomer Speechless Every Time

I'm a communicator. I can hold my own in practically any conversation but there is one subject that stops me dead in my tracks every time: death.

On Monday of this week, a media colleague I've known for more than 10 years, passed away. He just dropped dead on the sidewalk according to fellow employees at WABC-TV7 in New York, the place he worked for the past 20 years. He was 53-years-old, two years younger than me. He wasn't supposed to die yet. He had everything to live for, including a wonderful wife and his young son.

Ted's death is a reality check for baby boomers like me. It is a vivid reminder that tomorrow is promised to no one. That is why it is so important to get your affairs in order so when your Act II is over for the last time, your loved ones won't be caught totally off guard. I wonder if he and his wife ever sat down to have "the talk."

For many couples, talking about death is difficult. Nobody likes to think about dying. It's scary to think the person you're growing old with will no longer be around someday.

Recently my husband said, "I can't imagine my life without you. That's why I'm going to die first." Of course, his comment shocked me and I wasn't sure how to respond. Trying to lighten the mood, I said, "No -- I need to go first, because I know you will be able to re-group a whole lot better than I would." Then, jokingly, I suggested we die together.

That brief conversation got me to do some serious thinking. How would I cope emotionally and financially in the event that my husband passes away before me?

Preparing for your death is a topic many don't want to talk about. Death is inevitable, however, and if you don't take the time to plan, your wishes and your family's financial security could be at risk.

Here are some tips I found, which I hope will be as helpful to you as they were to me:

1) Creating a living will and name an executor.

2) Discuss your finances with your spouse and make sure you know account numbers, passwords, billing arrangements and insurance information.

3) Talk about funeral arrangements and find out if your spouse wants a coffin or prefers cremation.

4) List insurance and medical policy numbers, investment and other financial account numbers, along with passwords, social security information and login data for websites.

5) Make a rough draft of your monthly budget, factoring in living expenses and income.

Getting your house in order while you're both still alive will save the surviving spouse and other family members a lot of frustration and paperwork during the grieving process. es, my husband and I are way overdue for "the talk," but I know it's a conversation we must have soon.

Meanwhile, rest in peace Ted Holtzclaw.