by Ira Brower~Oftentimes, in a relationship, either the wife or husband manages their finances either in daily money management or planning. In my experience, having worked primarily with retired individuals over the years, little thought is given to what happens to the finances when the partner in charge can no longer manage this important function.
All of a sudden the other partner has to jump in and take over the financial matters with little or no experience and absolutely no clue as to the processes in place. Most often this partner is taking over at a very stressful time because of his or her partner’s incapacity or even death. Unfortunately, at a time when focusing on anything other than their partner is extremely difficult there are decisions that must be made in order to minimize costly financial pitfalls down the road whether it has to do with income, investment or estate planning needs.
My suggestion is that sometime in the very near future you take time to jointly review your financial matters and the processes currently in place in your household.
A. Begin by creating:
1) Statement of Assets and Liabilities. This statement should not only list all of your assets but it should include the current market value, where the assets are held and how the assets are registered (individually, jointly or payable on death). Also, list all your liabilities such as mortgage, personal loans, credit card debt, etc. How are the current monthly bills paid by check, direct deposit or on-line? Where are the current monthly bills located?
2) Statement of Financial Documents. This statement should include the location of your tax returns, brokerage statements, bank statements, deed to your real estate; mortgage documents, credit card information, retirement and employee benefit papers, etc.
3) Statement of Legal Documents. This statement should list the location of your wills, durable power of attorneys, health care directives and any trust that may be in place. You should also list your current and contingent executor, your attorney-in-fact, your medical power of attorney and of the course the name of your elder law attorney.
Decide whether your plans in place still make sense. If they don’t, what do you have to do to the plans to have them make sense?
1) Review your current income needs and investment goals to ensure that your current portfolio mix can supplement your needs. If not, you may have to look at reallocating your portfolio to help get closer to your needs.
2) Review all of your beneficiary designations in your wills, trusts, bank accounts, retirement accounts, insurance policies and brokerage accounts. Be sure that the named beneficiaries whether current or contingent are still meaningful. If not make the necessary changes today when you are able to make those changes.
Review your named executor, trustee, attorney-in-fact or guardian to be sure they still are a viable choice. Also look at their named successor to be sure they too are a viable choice.
C. Reach out
Now that you have reviewed your current asset and liabilities, your current needs and the current documents and the processes in place, you can BOTH make informed decisions about whether you need a new plan tailored for your circumstances. If you are at all unsure reach out for professional guidance through your attorney, accountant or other financial professional for educated guidance.