Family Estate Planning Discussions
My family, like many other families, is very busy; between children, work and home, there are many chores and activities that must be fulfilled every day. To conquer all these responsibilities, we divide many of them up. We trust each other to ensure that they are responsibly managing their duty. This works well because we have limited time and different skill sets. One of my responsibilities is managing the family finances.
Recently, my wife, Stephanie and I had a conversation revolving around our personal planning. It went something like this:
Stephanie: What happens if you die?
Bob: Don’t worry, everything is in order.
Stephanie: What does that mean?
Bob: We have our estate planning documents, there is more than enough insurance and everything for the business succession has been planned.
Stephanie: What do I need to know or do?
Bob: Ugh, well that is complicated.
I had completely overlooked a vital part of our estate planning. I understood what needed to be done. But if I were to pass away, I wasn’t the one that would need to deal with it! It's funny how, with our clients, this is what we do every day--make sure that both parties have peace of mind in case something happens to the other partner. In my own life, however, I had not done a very good job conveying what would happen and how to manage the financial affairs if one of us were to suddenly pass away. We have our estate planning documents in place but the simplified game plan had not been laid out.
Once I had realized that we were not on the same page, I set to work trying to devise a solution. I created a document that captured everything; from bill paying, to information on all our insurance contracts, to information on the businesses I am involved with. I also provided Stephanie with any pertinent contact information, policy information, and timing of payments or collections for any liabilities. In addition, I included information so that she would know where the money was going to come from to pay the bills. When I was satisfied that all necessary information was included in this document, I sat down with her and we discussed everything included in this document. It is a conversation I plan to have with Stephanie every few years as a “refresher”. I protected this document with secure password encryption software and shared the password with her so she would have the ability to unlock it. After all of this, I think both of us felt that we had a much better understanding of what would happen when one of us passed away.
It was a great exercise to go through. It helped me appreciate when a family first visits Private Wealth and is struggling with either organizing or communicating. It is gratifying to know that we often hear the relief that is realized after the planning process is started and implemented. I only wish I had explored this with my wife sooner.
There can be one other potential hurdle, a simple conversation around mortality. This process can be difficult for some people. For others, it can be enough to derail the discussion. At Private Wealth, we are aware of the sensitivity surrounding these delicate topics. This exercise can help you focus on getting your end-of-life administration in order. We will be mindful to those that want to keep the focus on the task at hand, understand all elements involved in a successful financial life and create a platform for all to have knowledge managing it.
If you would like assistance in this exercise or resources and strategies for your financial plan and investment options, please call us. Taking the steps to secure your future can give you and your loved one’s peace of mind and clarity about your financial well-being.