If you’re taking the time to read this, odds are you’re the planner in the family. You take care of most of the financial duties for your family, and your spouse looks to you for the final say on these matters. If that is a fairly accurate portrayal, it is important that you continue reading and then somehow convince your significant other to do the same.
Many couples are just like you, which is fine unless something happens to the financial caretaker... and then what?
I am going to take a guess that if you are reading this together, the financial caretaker just supplied an answer to that question… right? I would applaud myself, but this is really years of experience speaking. The thing is that you might have this all figured out, but the one you love the most might still be left with a mess. Confused?
There is so much more to estate planning than having a will and telling your spouse where everything is. Imagine for a moment what life would be like for them, aside from the emotional impact of losing the love of their life: the pressure of putting together the funeral (the songs, scriptures, important people to be there and speak, burial needs), consoling children and friends, carrying out the duties of executor of the will and trustee of the trust, re-registering assets, closing accounts, notifying all the necessary entities (social security, your utilities providers, etc.), making claims to life insurance, making financial adjustments that need to be made, discovering that certain streams of income are gone, tying up any lose ends, running the business or trying to keep it afloat until it sells. And what if death was due to an illness that has taken a toll on your partner’s physical and emotional well-being? What if it has drained much of your life's savings?
Still under the impression that having a will and telling your spouse where everything is, is enough?
Unfortunately, we have encountered horror stories that only occur after the fact. This has been everything from a newly widowed lady purchasing the first vehicle she has ever purchased on her own from her grandson, who took her to the cleaners, to the widow who is being forced to live on half of what she and her husband had planned for during retirement to the fire sale of a one-time thriving business that left the surviving spouse with almost nothing.
Fortunately, these stories can be prevented with a little effort. It is what we call being proactive rather than reactive. We make a plan for the 'what ifs' and most importantly, we are there to help if it does ever happen.
A few years ago, a dear friend and long-time client passed on. After the funeral his wife came in to see us and said, "Do you remember what you told me?" "You said everyone in the world will want to try to help you and give you advice, good or bad, and your job is to nod your head and say ' thank
you' all the while knowing that once everything has settled down you will come see us and we will be with you every step of the way."
If you haven't made an estate plan with and for your spouse, there is still time…and we are here to help.