You know how people say there are only two guarantees in life, and one of them is taxes? Well, this is about the other. To be clear… what happens to our money when we pass away. Most people feel uneasy with this subject but confronting your own mortality and talking to family about managing finances won’t make you pass away sooner. Instead, it eases everyone’s stress if you’re organized before a crisis occurs when emotions run high and you don’t have the capacity to focus on complicated financial matters.
Are you prepared for a life-changing event where your loved ones need to access financial accounts, legal documents, or medical information on your behalf?
Here are a Few Steps to Help You Get Started...
1. Organize and document your finances
2. Focus on your loved ones NOT yourself
3. Enlist the help of your financial coach for a neutral outside perspective
4. Talk with your loved ones
5. Get a quick guideline of details to cover in the conversation with the Family Inventory Workbook
Download Your Free Family Inventory Workbook:
This workbook might help you consider the many details of your overall personal and financial situation. You could even use it as a first step to help you begin developing or revising your estate plan.
Organize & Document Your Finances
When it comes to financial and estate planning, your spouse, partner, or others you trust with your personal affairs should know where you keep your financial, personal, health, and legal documents. Listing everything in one place also helps you keep beneficiaries up to date, explore other options, and may give you peace of mind.
As financial coaches we hope to prevent stories like this:
A widow visits her financial coach with a grocery bag full of mail she's received over the past few months since her husband passed away. She is not sure what goes to whom or what should be where. She and her financial advisor end up sitting down and sorting through everything in order to figure it all out. Sometimes, a year or two after a death, an insurance policy or an investment account shows up. Due to disorganization and lack of shared knowledge, the family didn’t even realize the account or investment existed.
Executives and business owners have an additional layer of complexity to plan for. Think about it—there could be old 401ks, investment accounts, bank accounts, annuities, insurance policies, legal documents and much more.
Organizing Your Financial Life Means You Care About Someone Other Than Yourself
If you’re in a relationship, you could leave your spouse or partner with a load of financial concerns at the same time they’re experiencing the debilitating heartache of loss. To avoid this, imagine organizing your financial life into neat and tidy boxes. It’s actually a little bit therapeutic when you start thinking like this.
“Don’t leave a horrendous mess for your loved ones simply because you didn’t have a conversation about the end of life, and your finances and estate weren’t organized.” –Greg Hammond, CFP®, CPA
Get an Outside Perspective
If you don’t have a financial professional, find one you’re comfortable with. A financial coach can help you with details, offer unbiased advice, and keep you on course. A caring financial coach takes time to understand your unique dynamics and values, educate you about investing for your goals, and when needed, act as a neutral facilitator between family members or business partners.
Your financial coach is a personal confidante who can help you craft a plan that’s custom made for you with steps you can realistically follow. YOU get to decide how you want to divide the family pie, the way you want to be remembered, if your family is protected with insurance or not, and how you want your estate handled. Working together, you’ll analyze your finances so you can clearly see where you stand today, and what you can leave as a legacy for those you love.
Talk With Your Loved Ones
Talk to your parents, your kids and anyone else who occupies an important place in your heart or world. Talking to family about managing finances can be challenging, but at the same time, it’s empowering, and even liberating. Before you jump straight into the nuts and bolts think about the rich opportunity you really have.
If family is the most important thing in your life, isn’t this an opportunity to show it? Do your ‘most important things’ occupy a key place in your budget? How will you ensure you don’t leave your family in debt or struggling? These questions are worth thinking about.
Even with the best intent, sometimes conversations go wrong. Often there’s a generational disconnect. One of the most powerful tools to combat this is humility because it frees you to listen with an attitude of respect. It also helps to step back and reflect on all that you’re grateful for. A burgeoning to-do list, your personal viewpoints on money, and stress can cause gratitude to slip your mind. However, approaching important conversations from a perspective of humility and gratitude can make even the most difficult topic easier to talk about.
Check out resources such as the Aegis Living and AARP websites for a wealth of information on talking to family about managing finances, questions to ask parents, and tips on aging.
Remember, if you troubleshoot as much as possible today, life’s most emotional times won’t be so full of questions and confusion. Talking to family about managing finances can be tough, but it’s a step toward doing right for yourself, your family, and others.