Something none of us like to think about it is getting sick and not being able to make our own decisions or even dying. We all know it’s a part of life, but it’s still not something you want to think or talk about. But, I’m going to ask you to do just that – think about your wishes and communicate them to your loved ones before it’s too late.
Many of us came from a family where the father was the individual who handled the majority, if not all, of the financials. In many cases, the spouse and children didn’t know anything about the family financials as it was seen as one of those topics that wasn’t polite to discuss. In this scenario, if something happened suddenly to the father, then the family was left with lots of questions and not many answers. They didn’t know what he wanted or what he had left them, and even more importantly, they don’t have the legal documentation to give them the rights to do what they think he wanted.
I cannot express how important it is, especially in today’s time, to make sure your spouse or your children have a complete understanding of the financials of your household. But don’t stop there; make sure they know what your wishes are for handling those finances. Talking about it is the first step, but that’s not enough – you need to get the important legal documentation set up to give the authorization for others to make decisions for you when you cannot. This can include having a will, a power of attorney, a health care power of attorney, living will, and more. These documents can be set up by an attorney and it will be well worth the time and money you spend to set it up now, so that you don’t leave your family having to make tough decisions when you can’t make them for yourself.
Once you have the proper legal documents set up make sure you have them all in a central location (like a fire safe or safe deposit box at a bank), and make sure someone knows they are there. Include with this a list of all insurance policies you have, bank accounts, investment accounts, loans, etc., and who you work with for each item. If you need help, you can call our office and request our “prepare for emergencies” brochure or our “executor checklist.” These items can give you a starting point to getting all your important documents into one location.
If something happens to you, your family and loved ones will be very emotional and will need to deal with their grief. Help them to do this without having to sort through boxes and filing cabinets and try to guess what you have and what you wanted.
I encourage you, if your parents are living, to talk with them and find out where they have everything and find out their wishes. Then, talk to your spouse, or your children, or to an attorney. Just make sure you talk to someone and let them know your wishes for your financials. One of the greatest gifts of love that you can show your family member is to take the time talk to organize your affairs and put it in good order.