Look no one wants to talk about dying, however in the last year conversation around this topic have gotten a bit more necessary to have, although I would argue always have been. I am in the business of financial planning so I see death and it’s various impacts but particularly on that of finances and relationships.
Cheri Williams-Franklin, founder and CEO of Life Snapshot, and I agree there is one key word that impacts these pieces the most – communication. We sometimes get in our own ways whether it is with ourselves, our partners, or our loved ones. Privacy is a key piece to why most individuals don’t want to discuss money and that usually boils down to a few pieces:
You don’t want your loved ones to know how much money you have
You are feeling embarrassed of where you are financially
You don’t know where to start
You think you won’t need any estate planning
Have you ever found yourself feeling one of these ways? There is no shame in any of those feelings, however I am also certain that you wouldn’t want to have those impact your family at an already critical point. Follow with me, even though I know this is hard, when you pass away will you want your loved ones to be able to grieve and process or will you want them to have to spend time and energy processing and organizing your estate which could have been a much easier process?
Here are the big pieces you will walk away from listening to the conversation that Cheri Williams-Franklin and I had on the Thrive For[e]ward podcast:
The 3 P’s you need to know – and a 4th I threw in!
Key conversations to have with the important people in your life
A bit of insight into the “lost” assets
When we do not properly handle and revisit pieces of our financial state that can have impacts not only on us but those that we leave behind. In my career, the there are three pieces that I have found that most people end up struggling with because they do not spend the time to visit or re-visit the topics.
The first one is while you are still living by getting the right legal documents in order. At bear minimum you should have documents of a Power of Attorney, Health Care Directive/Advanced Directive, and a will. However, please note that a will will not avoid probate. There may be, depending on your family dynamic and accumulated wealth a need for more advanced planning as well. Also, as you listen to Cheri’s story of losing her sister unexpectedly at the age of 36 you will realize this is not a topic for those “experienced” in age – honestly, anyone over the age of 18 should consider establishing these documents in some way.
Secondly, designating and updating beneficiaries. Your bank accounts, investments, 401ks, retirement accounts, health savings accounts, life insurance, even in some states your home and car can all have beneficiaries listed. This is a KEY piece you can do with the partnership of the organizations that you work with. However, through your life time it’s important to make sure these are updated especially through life transitions like marriage, divorce, and death. It is also important that these align with any estate planning that you have done because they supersede any legal documents and go direct to the individuals you have listed.
Lastly, I would say the cost and impact of the need for end of life care. Look I get it, death isn’t a fun topic and neither is the parts of us leading up to death. I know, I’ve walked through it personally as a caregiver for my grandfather and now watching my father live through the journey of Alzheimer’s. We all want to think we will peacefully pass in our sleep and trust me I hope that as well. However, that is not always the case. The cost of care can be something that actually impacts your financial plan more than the fluctuations in the market. Not only is this an important topic to consider from a financial standpoint and even more so to those that may have to care for you. Many caregivers will end up being your partner and family. You may even serve as a caregiver to a parent or a family member. Remember that key word I told you about earlier – communication?
Communication has a direct effect on those we care for. Caregiving is not easy especially for those we love. There is the physical part of administering the care and there is a lot that is unseen — time off work, having to quit a job to care for someone full time, mental health, financial support, the drain of not having just the joy parts, family dynamics of the care falling on one person more than the other.
I am going to leave you with few pieces that you can take action on going forward:
Review your beneficiaries annually
Have conversations around your plans with those that will be impacted
Have conversations with your loved ones if you think they may be utilizing your services
Again, if you find yourself struggling in these spaces take a listen to the podcast with Cheri Williams-Franklin as we talk about how to take action. If you would like to take a deeper dive, as always we are here to support you in these conversations and provide you with resources and a list of professionals that can help you take action in these areas – schedule your wealth assessment today.
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