To protect those you love, prepare for the worst

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Deb Russo is a FIFO wife of the offshore kind. Her husband works on oil rigs and vessels. Typically, he does a four-week-on and four-week-off roster. They've lived their entire 14-year relationship like this. Initially Deb's husband was in the Navy, then he shifted to work in the mines and did the 28/7 roster (Deb's least favourite!) With this offshore roster, though, she wouldn’t change a thing.

I recently shocked my friend Rhys by telling him how my husband and I had made "plans" if we were ever to divorce.

He looked wide-eyed at me and said: "Gee, isn't that like prophesying your future?"

Initially I was confused, because of course that doesn’t happen! But I sort of get it, and guess that's exactly why some people don't organise a will or have any sort of plan in place should death occur.

However, in the past two weeks I've discovered that doing a will isn’t "prophesying" about what might happen. It's an act of love in case something does happen.

You see, last month a dear friend passed away. Even in death she is impacting on me, because in truth my husband and I are still using wills that are pretty much invalid. We made them long before we were married and long before our children were born. And since starting offshore work, our estate has grown and become ever more varied. Should something unthinkable happen, I’m not even sure what would happen to it all, and how the boys would fare.

We've told relatives what we'd like to happen, but it's never been officially documented. And as I've discovered, relationships and wishes can be misinterpreted.

So while it’s a bit morbid, here are four things you should consider putting into place for your children, just in case the very worst happens.

  • Insurance: This doesn’t have to be expensive and it can be done via your superannuation. There are three types of insurance: life insurance, permanent injury and income protection. Often taking insurance via your superannuation is cheaper and it can sometimes have a tax benefit HOWEVER always compare the pros and cons with a finance advisor.
  • Making a will and appointing an executor: Unless you have a will, your estate will be placed into the hands of the public trust immediately and while it will eventually be distributed, this can take years and it might not happen the way you want it to. 
  • Your funeral: Make the hard decisions for your family. This seriously has to be the worst thing for those left behind, so consider making it as simple a process as possible. Cremation or burial? Religious or secular? Flowers or donation? Wake or no wake? Make the decisions as clear as if you were here. 
  • Organ donation: My dear friend donated her organs and in the process saved three individuals. She saved three families from grieving the way hers is. It's simple, it will make you an angel and all you need is understanding from your family, your Medicare card and opting in by signing the Australian Organ Donor Register.

It's such a comfort to be getting all this organised, knowing our family will be taken care of even if the unthinkable happens and we're not here to care for them personally.


More columns from Oil & Gas Mum, Deb Russo:

Check out Deb's daily blog at and if you've got any questions for her, please click here.

And here's another oil and gas couple's advice on making FIFO family life work when you're working offshore