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Old 05-23-2011, 12:49 PM   #61
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Allow me to throw a cold bucket of water piece of reality in both your directions. Forgive me in advance if I am too blunt, but here it is...

I was suddenly widowed at age 46. If I had not known the complete status of our financial affairs, I would have been in a position of complete fiscal helplessness. In this day and age, there is simply no excuse for that, for either the husband or wife.

Your other choice is to hire an outsider to overcharge and churn manage the estate and finances. Be very careful about what is wished for.
I strongly disagree with this. I don't see how not being aware of every nuance of your financial situation would have left you "helpless". Yes, it would have been one more thing to deal with during a difficult time, but that's not the same as helpless.

DW doesn't like math, and is only somewhat aware of the day to day workings of our finances. But she's damned smart and capable, and with the cushion of insurance money and/or cash in our accounts would have plenty of time to get a handle on how she would deal with our her finances moving forward. I've given her some instructions/explainations in a death document, but what she ends up doing I don't know. Nor will I care, being dead and all. She'll manage. Actually, in the grand scheme of things I doubt it will be her biggest issue. Hopefully, the grief of losing me will be much more difficult to deal with. Or maybe not.
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Old 05-23-2011, 12:55 PM   #62
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OK, here's what you do. Have an envelope that say "Open this if I am dead." Inside, have a sheet of paper that says

"I TOLD you you should have learned more about the finances."
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Old 05-23-2011, 12:57 PM   #63
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Hopefully, the grief of losing me will be much more difficult to deal with. Or maybe not.
Looks like T-Al has found a way to insure the latter is the case...
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Old 05-23-2011, 01:09 PM   #64
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Try having your wife listen to Dave Ramsey. There are some things I don't agree with but, in general, he's pretty good for basic stuff and to give motivation. My wife has no interest in money issues but, ever since she started listening to him, she would have questions here and there and we would talk about it, which leads to other subjects.
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Old 05-23-2011, 02:17 PM   #65
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She'll manage. Actually, in the grand scheme of things I doubt it will be her biggest issue. Hopefully, the grief of losing me will be much more difficult to deal with. Or maybe not.

Of course she will manage and absolutely the grief is the hardest part of the whole loss but the grief puts you in a fog which is hard to describe . Things you were capable of doing you have a hard time with for about a year . So really the most important thing that she has to know is where the bills are and where does the stream of money come and what does she have to do to make it continue . The rest she will have plenty of time to figure out .
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Old 05-23-2011, 02:40 PM   #66
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We have a good accountant, a good financial advisor, good asset base and income stream, and an up to date will. Once I am gone, the rest will be down to common sense and moving forward.
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Old 05-23-2011, 02:52 PM   #67
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I strongly disagree with this. I don't see how not being aware of every nuance of your financial situation would have left you "helpless". Yes, it would have been one more thing to deal with during a difficult time, but that's not the same as helpless.
No problem...we can agree to disagree.

What I meant by "fiscally helpless" (not incompetent) is that without "a priori" knowledge of the financial accounts and whether they are JTWROS registrations or not, passwords for online access, or a reasonable roadmap to follow, it will be extremely difficult to wade through the financial part while making arrangements, trying to sleep, trying to eat, taking calls from friends and relatives, and generally trying to keep your mind focused.

Moe describes the "fog" and that is exactly what happens. Even the most competent person will not be clicking on all 8 cylinders. It passes, but it is real and it does happen. BTDT
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Old 05-24-2011, 08:08 AM   #68
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I've been working on updating my "After I'm gone" letter, and in the process learned something interesting about my Schwab Bank Bill Pay service. Because it is a joint account, DW and I both have our own log on ID and Pword. She never uses hers, but she had to have one because she inherited an IRA. Anyway, using my access to the bank, I have set up paying virtually all our billers, with account numbers and addresses. When I looked at the service through her access, there was nothing there. Turns out that all bill pay services are set up the same way with a single SSAN controlling access to the service.

I then called Schwab and asked how she could get access if I was out of action. Well, they said she could continue to use my access. I responded that once she sent in a death notice, wouldn't my access disappear? The answer was unclear. I need to call back today and see what they say. I have this impression that once a death occurs, the bank (once told) freezes the account. This would be a major roadblock for DW.
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Old 05-24-2011, 08:43 AM   #69
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Yes, once they are notified of your death, they will freeze the accounts.
I would recommend not notifying them of the death until the living spouse has drawn any short-term cash needs from it.
Typically I see people wait anywhere from a few weeks to a month or more before sending in the official documents--the death certificate and affidavit of domicile at Schwab, then the account changes are processed: IRAs to beneficiaries, JTWROS to individual, etc.
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Old 05-24-2011, 08:51 AM   #70
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No problem...we can agree to disagree.

What I meant by "fiscally helpless" (not incompetent) is that without "a priori" knowledge of the financial accounts and whether they are JTWROS registrations or not, passwords for online access, or a reasonable roadmap to follow, it will be extremely difficult to wade through the financial part while making arrangements, trying to sleep, trying to eat, taking calls from friends and relatives, and generally trying to keep your mind focused.

Moe describes the "fog" and that is exactly what happens. Even the most competent person will not be clicking on all 8 cylinders. It passes, but it is real and it does happen. BTDT
I understand. BTDT myself, with parents and their finances. As bad as that was, I'm sure losing a spouse would be orders of magnitudes worse. That's why I said that there needs to be plenty of cash available, preferably a couple of years worth. With that and a decent letter listing bills, accounts, passwords, etc, there would be time to find your way out of the fog.

I can't imagine leaving a financially uninterested spouse without a good cash buffer and an excellent death letter. That would be devastating and cruel. But since we're set up for that IMO she can continue on with her interests and I'll deal with the finances until circumstances force a change. Not to say she has no clue what's going on, but she's definitely not interested in the day to day workings.
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Old 05-24-2011, 09:07 AM   #71
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I've... learned something interesting about my Schwab Bank Bill Pay service. Because it is a joint account, DW and I both have our own log on ID and Pword. She never uses hers, . When I looked at the service through her access, there was nothing there. Turns out that all bill pay services are set up the same way with a single SSAN controlling access to the service.
Argggh. I forgot about that. DW has access to all the money so it isn't the end of the world. But I have a lot of automatic bill paying setup. That would all end. And the accounts we pay be regular checks would disappear so she would have to set them all up again. I will write the bank and see what - if anything - they can do about it.
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Old 05-24-2011, 09:10 AM   #72
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Yes, once they are notified of your death, they will freeze the accounts.
I would recommend not notifying them of the death until the living spouse has drawn any short-term cash needs from it.
Typically I see people wait anywhere from a few weeks to a month or more before sending in the official documents--the death certificate and affidavit of domicile at Schwab, then the account changes are processed: IRAs to beneficiaries, JTWROS to individual, etc.
Set up all accounts with a TOD on them and they can't be locked. JTWROS is ok but many times causes problems. If a TOD is involved with a spouse, the bank or brokerage HAS to release funds..........
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Old 05-24-2011, 09:30 AM   #73
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Set up all accounts with a TOD on them and they can't be locked. JTWROS is ok but many times causes problems. If a TOD is involved with a spouse, the bank or brokerage HAS to release funds..........
TOD?
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Old 05-24-2011, 09:47 AM   #74
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Temple of Doom or Transfer on Death.
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Old 05-24-2011, 10:00 AM   #75
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Does a TOD transfer the account or just access? If the later, can they be set up on IRAs and 401Ks or just regular accounts?
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Old 05-24-2011, 10:19 AM   #76
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Yeah but Des Ben (TOD) accounts often have a $50 a year fee, seems high to pay when just some cash management plans would save that.
cheap Sarah

The IRAs and 401ks are already set up with beneficiaries, TOD is for brokerage-type accounts. No need to add that layer to them.
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Old 05-24-2011, 12:14 PM   #77
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I have a word doc and a spreadsheet that contains everything. I update it monthly with the latest data - all banking, investment accounts, insurance policies. DW has no interest but does want to have those items updated.

She has a hard copy that is printed out every year. And knows where the soft copies are kept.
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Old 05-24-2011, 02:42 PM   #78
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Here in WA, the atty doesn't like TOD, because it can pass funds outside intent of the will you spent $1000 getting written. The atty wants things titled Community Property rather than JT or TOD.

I think part of the solution is not to advise the bank/broker of a death until you have taken out some funds to set up a separate account
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Old 05-24-2011, 02:54 PM   #79
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DW will simply have to remember to stop giving me my allowance after I'm "gone" and that should take care of it.......
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Old 05-25-2011, 07:54 AM   #80
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Interesting thread how various couples deal with finances. As a practical matter I handle the day-to-day stuff (for example I'm the one who writes the checks for the utilities) but DW has a good grip on the overall finances. She's the one who wrote the spreadsheet that we refer to frequently deciding "Do we want to buy that?"

So I think financially she'd do fine without me.
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