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How have you set up accounts for wife if you die first??
Old 05-27-2016, 07:47 PM   #1
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How have you set up accounts for wife if you die first??

I self manage our retirement accounts as most of you all do. My wife has no real knowledge of how to manage our accounts and would not know what to do if I croak first. How have you set up investments for your spouse to begin taking income upon your demise?? When I die my pension stops so she will need to start taking withdrawals. We aren't taking any now. Don't want her to have to go to financial manager if I can help it. The majority of our savings are at Vanguard.
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Old 05-27-2016, 07:57 PM   #2
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I have the same situation. I suspect she will get a Financial Adviser. Or go broke.

There is only so much you can do to prepare them. I think I am better off teaching a rock...
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Old 05-27-2016, 08:07 PM   #3
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I have the same situation. I suspect she will get a Financial Adviser. Or go broke.

There is only so much you can do to prepare them. I think I am better off teaching a rock...
I suspect she is not going to like managing your rentals, either. The Fido and Vanguard people can provide some guidance on the paper assets, but finding a property manager that won't make you spin in your grave is going to be next to impossible for her. Better to have a plan in place for managing or liquidating the rentals before that happens.
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Old 05-27-2016, 08:14 PM   #4
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I put together a one-page summary of how I suggest DW set up things with Vanguard should I go first.

It is basically a "put everything in Wellesley" strategy to take the quarterly dividends as income along with whatever additional distributions are needed to meet RMD requirements. That plus her stepped-up SS and her small pension should be more than adequate for her needs.

Also leaving a copy of the summary for DD#1, who is a CPA and can assist her mom to manage her finances.
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Old 05-27-2016, 08:16 PM   #5
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First, document everything, including passwords to access accounts and your thoughts of what should be done with it if she was alone.

If she has any interest at all, start to involve her in your regular reviews of your investments. In my case, DH has no interest in managing things, but he has taken on responsibility to update our investment spreadsheet monthly, so he knows where everything is and how to access the accounts.

What we have done is to have a fraction of our investments managed by an advisor (traditional 1% basis). We talk with him annually, and he has agreed to give DH advice on a fee basis for what he doesn't manage if I go first before our children are ready to take that on.

Be creative and try not to assume too much before talking it over with all involved.
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Old 05-27-2016, 08:20 PM   #6
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I'm the wife - and I manage the money/investments/bills in our house. DH is the one who'd be lost financially if I die first.

I wrote a document for him "in case of death"... It outlines everything - tells him the routines for paying bills, what is autopay, what is manually paid. It talks about withdrawal processes. It lays out every account, every bill, etc. He put a hard copy in the safe deposit box, we put a copy with the will and trust, and there is an electronic copy on our shared backup drive.
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Old 05-27-2016, 08:45 PM   #7
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Thanks for your inputs. I had thought, as some of you suggested, to put everything into a document that spells it out as to where everything is, passwords, user names, and how to start some automatic withdrawals. Sounds like a good idea to take $$$ from Wellesley. I know most on this forum don't like deferred annuities but I have two that can start to pay when I am gone to provide her with income.
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Old 05-27-2016, 08:53 PM   #8
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What I know, she knows......and what she knows, I know about 80% of.
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Old 05-27-2016, 09:11 PM   #9
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I also have a "death document" that summarizes all the accounts and bills.

One idea I'll have to steal from the comments above is adding guidance on how I'd suggest the investments be handled to provide lasting income. I try to review with missus our finances on a quarterly basis but she's generally pretty disinterested.
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Old 05-27-2016, 09:56 PM   #10
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I've wondered about setting up a charitable remainder trust with a university, large community foundation or blue chip non profit as trustee. That way, DW would have a passive income for life, our charitable interests would benefit eventually and, if she remarried some ne'er do well who wanted her money, he couldn't get at the principal.
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Old 05-27-2016, 10:07 PM   #11
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First, I have prepared a document detailing everything from passwords to access accounts and instructions on who she needs to contact and what to tell them what should be done.


To date, I have come up with using one of the Managed Payout account for all but the cash accounts. The Trust will continue to deposit the monthly checks into the cash account. Since we travel/live internationally, there is risk. Currently, I have only Vanguard, A US domestic bank account, a bank account in SE Asia location I live. If I am know that I am passing, I will set it up, otherwise, the trustee has instructions for them to set it up. Life income to her, Investments to my Kids.


I know, people do not like this, but it is cost effective. I ran the numbers for an moderate portfolio and the fees the investment companies ran for me, and it was not cost effective for a 3-5 percent growth environment for foreseeable future - If it changes, I may reconsider.
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Old 05-27-2016, 10:46 PM   #12
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I suspect she is not going to like managing your rentals, either. The Fido and Vanguard people can provide some guidance on the paper assets, but finding a property manager that won't make you spin in your grave is going to be next to impossible for her. Better to have a plan in place for managing or liquidating the rentals before that happens.
Exactly... Liquid/paper assets are easy. They transfer easily and free.

I have a trust, and I plan on starting to liquidate at ~age 62, or $5M in NW. There may be a 1031 to an investment, future retirement property.

I will have to move my residence to a lower tax state first. Maybe 1031 them all to some FL property, then sell the FL properties. Maybe even farm land to get a small income stream.

I start downsizing next month too, after I RE.
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Old 05-28-2016, 05:02 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by rodi View Post
I'm the wife - and I manage the money/investments/bills in our house. DH is the one who'd be lost financially if I die first.

I wrote a document for him "in case of death"... It outlines everything - tells him the routines for paying bills, what is autopay, what is manually paid. It talks about withdrawal processes. It lays out every account, every bill, etc. He put a hard copy in the safe deposit box, we put a copy with the will and trust, and there is an electronic copy on our shared backup drive.

Rodi is 100% spot on here. I put copies of everything from wills and POA's and financial statements in a large binder. Also the first page outlines that my wife should make appointments with our attorney and CPA. Pay them whatever fee they want to help her navigate switching everything over to her. Not financial advice mind you....just logistics.

Also I told her to promise me that she would never buy an annuity of any kind. Annuity is a bad word in our house.
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Old 05-28-2016, 06:25 AM   #14
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DW is not interested in learning about the finances as long as she can rely on me to deal with it but she is a smart lawyer so it should be no problem. Lets face it -- this stuff is not rocket science. I prepared a lengthy document that describes our sources of income, SWR approach and withdrawal method, budget, bill paying in detail (it directs them to the location of account numbers, phone numbers, URL's, and passwords). I shared copies with DW, our son, and our daughter. When I kick I have advised them to continue with a DIY index fund approach and avoid turning to an FA. I recommended that they go back to our accountant for taxes unless one of them shows an affinity for Turbo Tax (which has not been the case so far). I suspect they will do fine.
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Old 05-28-2016, 06:32 AM   #15
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Another wife in charge of the finances--I'm sure OP didn't intend his title to be sexist, lol.

DH knows nothing of the mechanics of our investments, but knows how to find them. Because I work in the industry, my expectation is that he would consult with my boss (if I should die early) and they'd be able to sort things out in the short term.

Beyond that, I think he's heard enough bitching from me about sharpies at the EJones/Ameriprise/ML sort of places not to go that route.
And of course I would expect him to run through the money like wildfire, too, lol, but not my concern at that point.
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Old 05-28-2016, 07:37 AM   #16
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DW handles the cash flow and I handle the investments. We both have some feel for what the other does and could pick up if needed.
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Old 05-28-2016, 08:37 AM   #17
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I'm lucky in this regard ( and many others) because my DW is fully up to speed and understands finances almost as well as I do. She can make her own decisions if I go first.
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Old 05-28-2016, 09:04 AM   #18
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I'll worry about that when it happens.....

Seriously, I have a one page spreadsheet (printed off) and in a secure location that she knows how to access with everything she will need to know. I remind her about this spreadsheet every time I update it. More than enough info that she will be able to deal with it.
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Old 05-28-2016, 10:13 AM   #19
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I'm deferring SS to age 70. My benefit will be big enough to cover all of her normal expenses. She also get 1/2 my pension (smaller than SS).

She won't starve.

I print up a list of assets with current balances every month. It's pretty simple. She always looks at it carefully. I'm sure she would find phone numbers and change ownership.

She'll ask our oldest kid (who is a historian, not a financial specialist) for some basic advice. I'm sure one piece of advice will be to set aside enough to pay for multiple years in a nursing home.

She may move some of the money to places that I'd consider too conservative. She may give more money to her younger brother than I would. But, so what? It's her money.

Maybe my most important thought is that I shouldn't try to control things after I die.
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Old 05-28-2016, 10:46 AM   #20
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How have you set up investments for your spouse to begin taking income upon your demise??
We are setting things up so she can manage the assets and get income like we've done while I was living.

Simplifying everything to make it easier since she's not a "numbers person". Cutting the number of investments to mostly index funds located in just two institutions (Vanguard and one other). Taxable accounts are in both our names and retirement accounts have her as the beneficiary so she has access to everything when I die.

Wrote an estate document that we review/update each January. Includes Retirement Financial Plan section. Has year end statements for all our accounts as well as access passwords and contact information. Occasionally I have her access our main accounts herself just to ensure instructions are good enough for her to do it. Also she participates in discussions with account reps when she's available.

The Retirement Financial Plan includes an section that describes how we fund our living expenses each year and a summary spreadsheet of our investments that acts as our working document throughout the year. One column includes the estimated income in dividends / distributed capitals gains from each. That money makes up 75-100% of what she'd need to spend each year. Any additional money is collected by selling off assets using some general guidance included in the document. Later, SS will cover any shortfall.

Each quarter I run some numbers and then we discuss the status of retirement financial plan (15 minute discussion). I also discuss any buys / sells I do during the year with her before I do them. Also occasionally have her physically make the orders so it's not a mystery anymore to her how that works.

Through regular discussions about finances, she's become fairly comfortable / knowledge on how our plan works even though she's really not a "numbers person". Could do it herself with limited assistance from company reps if I passed. However, the plan includes a suggestion that she use Vanguard FA services (where most of our money is) if she needs someone to manage it for her.
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