My office phone rang. It was a referral from a friend. Through tears, the lady in her sixties, explained that her husband had passed away just weeks before. He had always paid the bills, handled the taxes, met with the investment broker and now she was left not knowing what they owned and if she had enough money to pay their bills. In fact, she didn’t even know what bills there were. She was “lost.”
We met and prepared a plan. Through our meetings, phone calls and searches of the house, we identified brokerage accounts, life insurance policies, retirement accounts, lock boxes, copies of the will, and all the information we needed to get her moving forward.
It wasn’t that the husband was keeping the information from his wife. He always took care of the financial things. He enjoyed it and his wife had no interest in it at the time. He had planned well for their future but just failed to share the plan with her. That happens sometimes when you don’t plan to die as young as he did.
I helped her establish a budget, made a list of things she needed to take care of each month and within a few months, she had learned how to handle her household finances and investments. Fortunately, she was in great shape financially and everything turned out good for her.
We’ve all heard stories of friends or family passing away suddenly. It’s hard dealing with the loss of someone you love, but having to step into a new role so quickly without your loved one there to help compounds the anguish.
Make a New Year’s resolution to make a notebook of your personal financial information, contacts, account numbers, passwords, etc. Sit down and have a conversation with your spouse, children or loved ones who will be impacted most by your death. Let them know what bills are paid automatically. Explain the things that only you know now. If they aren’t prepared to deal with those issues, make sure they know who they need to call for guidance. If you have a trusted advisor that you would like to help your loved ones through the process, go ahead and meet with the advisor to make sure they have all the necessary information and understand your wishes.
Leaving your family with a plan could be your last act of love.
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