We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Our Recent Essays Behind the Front Page
Thursday, November 15. 2018
I suggest that everybody have a plan in mind, or on paper, for what to do with money and life if your spouse drops dead, or becomes disabled or unemployed today. I guess that's assuming the spouse has an income, income-producing assets, or plain assets, or that the spouse manages some or all of the family finances.
Things happen out of the blue as I have recently seen, even to the healthiest people. Well, it's guaranteed that they will, sooner or later. It's a very good idea to have a plan, and to not pretend that things will go on like the present forever. It is impossible to make a plan in the midst of personal and financial chaos.
I suppose this is more relevant to gals, because guys begin dropping like flies after age 50 or 60, with accelerating pace each year thereafter. Gals need to know what the assets are, where they are, what the life insurance is, what the social security is, what the bills are, and need to have some idea of what they will do when sudden widowhood strikes. The odds are that it will.
Posted by Bird Dog in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 14:43 | Comments (13) | Trackbacks (0)
Display comments as (Linear | Threaded)
This hits home for me.
My husband is incredibly lax about this, pushing off any action, and promising to do it, but - not.
I decided to take it into my own hands. I've started a spreadsheet, listing the asset, insurance, or account, along with the information about it (account #, contact info), and getting a general estimate of how much is in the account. I've backed up the online Google sheet, and will share it with a couple of email accounts.
That way, if the information is needed quickly, I can share it with my kids, and make the transition easier.
His father and grandfather died suddenly, at an early age - I just think he's choosing to bury his head in the sand.
So, I'm taking charge.
I plan to set up another "info page" for my stuff after Christmas.
You are so right Bird Dog. And make sure all accounts have beneficiaries assigned - you do not want anything to go to probate.
Sound advice for both spouses. My wife knows to call our Fidelity advisor, I trust the guy. He's knowledgeable across a spectrum of financial subjects and can tap a huge pool of experts. And he has helped me in situations that didn't involve Fidelity; when my mother's estate became entangled he was the one that suggested the strategy to untangle it. He and Fidelity didn't make a dime on it but my siblings and I did.
At weeks shy of 69 I've buried more contemporaries than I care to count, some who appeared quite healthy right up until they keeled over. Like most husbands I always assumed I'd go first and planned that way but a little over two years ago my perfectly healthy wife had a stroke. Her neurologist has a stock speech about risk factors but concludes it by saying much of life is dumb luck. She survived and fought her way back but it was only recently that she learned again to count. I always handled the big stuff like investments, relations with China and the Mideast war, she handled little stuff like paying the bills. When she went down I didn't even know what bank in town she used.
What an awful shock for you. I hope your wife continues to improve.
Yeah. Important stuff. We're working on getting assets organized and information squirreled away in known places, in case of unscheduled demises or other misfortune. Maybe even with a central doomsday file that tells where to look for the other records.
Also, for those who own small businesses: make sure everything critical (in particular, your local user names and passwords, especially for whatever machine has the accounting software on it) is someplace people can find it if you're suddenly incapacitated. Put an elaborate tamper-evident seal on it, sure, but have it where it can be gotten at in a pinch.
I learned this'n the hard way a few years ago, when my boss died and nobody had access to the accounting system nor any clue what might be owed or due.
This is bread & butter work for a decent family lawyer. It is not necessarily complicated. If you are shopping for a lawyer, consider getting one who practices Elder Law, as this a sort of guild whose members emphasize the ethical considerations of estates and aging people. The process of planning your estate and getting everything in order takes a couple of months to see through and shouldn't cost more than around $3-6 thousand, in my experience, which is fairly recent. It's a good learning and organizational experience for a husband and wife to go through, and you'll end up with a set of documents that not only covers your assets, it will also cover your thinking and personal wishes in times of medical or life-changing emergencies - Just remember these are the last things you want to be arguing over with family members when the time comes. If you haven't done it yet than get your spouse off high center, bite the bullet and get it done. It's not hard once you get started, the lawyers have the process streamlined and well mapped.
On an even Grimmer note, if you are in nursing home, don't want to resuscitated, get a Do Not Resuscitate notice and tape it to the head board of your bed. Otherwise, if you go into a health crisis, EMS will stabilize you and rush you to the hospital to save your life, even if you don't want it saved. When my father had his major strike, I learned all kinds of new information in an amazingly short time.
Don't forget a power of attorney and to check your state's requirements for one, medical and financial. If I had not had both for my husband, his end-of-life journey would have been so much more difficult. Because I did, his dementia and months in a nursing home were less difficult. A good attorney guided us through wills and the POAs long before either of us needed one.
On the other hand, be very careful who you give a POA to, ie... never ever to someone who needs your assets.
My mother, in her 90s, decided it was time to update her will and finally give me (the daughter-on-call) the power of attorney and authority to act on her behalf in her Living Will. So duly drove her to the lawyer's office and helped explain what was wanted (Mum was both legally blind and rather hard of hearing, though she knew exactly what she wanted). All went well, and - in due time - we returned to have Mum sign all the papers. As one mentioned in various papers, I was not allowed in the room where the signing took place. Suddenly the lawyer came out of the room and asked me to come in. Seems he couldn't explain to Mum exactly what she was signing and needed me to help. It was the Living Will directive. So I looked at Mum and said, "This means I get to decide when to pull the plug". Gasps all around the table, but Mum just nodded, said "Right, dear", and signed.
My wife died at 46. I was 48. We has started the process of addressing end of life issues, so I was not completely unprepared. It was still a disaster. Spend a few hours every Sunday addressing these important topics before you forge ahead with the rest of the day. Once everything is ready, use that two hours to take some long walks.
Common sense advice that is not so commonly followed. Several years ago (10 or so) my wife and I established a trust for all our assets and which specifies what is to happen with them in all possible permutations of our passing. We also include our children and their spouses and children in this plan.
My wife is now retired, I continue to work and plan to for several more years. But we've got a plan for financial certainty, if not affluence, should our good health and living situations change.
My father died at 59 of lung cancer. Died within 6 weeks of diagnosis. Died without a will and a very involved live-in girlfriend of many years. Needless to say, it was not pretty as my sibling and I were the rightful heirs, since she was not a wife.
She got him to sign over the house to her, which was the bulk of his wealth. Fought tooth and nail against us getting anything inside the home except the junk she wanted to get rid of an had no use for...an non-working, but collectible, sports car, a bike he hadn't ridden in years. That kind of thing.
Then, we had to go through probate and hire an attorney. Nightmare.
Do not do this to your children.
Also, I HIGHLY recommend you get as much life insurance as you can and make sure you have updated beneficiaries. A lot of people don't realize you can get life insurance payouts very quickly after death and they are TAX FREE. Big deal for any family members left behind, especially young adult children who may not have much in life yet.
Oh, and another mistake of my father's...he put 'my estate' on some of his investments instead of named beneficiaries. Not names. Dumbest thing ever. That also went through probate and was a mess and a half to get the investment companies to give out TWO checks. (half to me, half to sibling)