Over the past year, five of our clients have lost a spouse. It's such a difficult time. Thankfully, in each case, they were prepared financially. Sadly, many families are not, even when the passing is expected.
Death is life's one certainty. Please, do your family a favor.
Take these basic steps to help your survivors
Do practical estate planning.
I don't just mean creating a will, powers of attorney and, for high net worth families, living trusts. Yes, you need those documents. But, that's the easy part. The hard part is putting your estate plan into effect. Examples: (1) checking that all your retirement account beneficiaries are correct; (2) making your trust the owner of your bank and brokerage accounts; and (3) sharing your documents with the people who need them, like your executor, trustees, and agents of your powers of attorney.
Maintain a list of personal financial info.
This list should have the financial information your family will need, such as assets and liabilities, a list of accounts, banking and credit card details, insurance policies, and key contacts. Try to update it annually. We have a template we are happy to send you. Please email us for it a copy.
Organize your online life.
That means either using a password manager that your closest survivor can access or keeping a list with all your logins and passwords. Include instructions on how to unlock your smartphone. Keep all this in a safe place.
Buy sufficient life insurance.
If your family relies on your income, you almost surely need life insurance. Ask your financial advisor -- not your insurance agent -- to determine how much you need. Then, buy it. Term insurance is almost always the right answer. It is the least expensive, and because it will term out well before your expected passing once you have saved enough to support your dependents.
Planning for your death is a gift for your loved ones. It will allow them to grieve without worrying about money, and it will allow them to live more comfortably. Doing this work is not glamorous. It never seems urgent. But your family will appreciate it and thank you.