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'Signed, Sealed, Delivered, Itís Yours'
Old 09-20-2006, 02:40 PM   #1
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'Signed, Sealed, Delivered, Itís Yours'

A really good article (and idea) by Ben Stein today-

http://finance.yahoo.com/columnist/a.../yourlife/9709
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Re: 'Signed, Sealed, Delivered, Itís Yours'
Old 09-20-2006, 03:43 PM   #2
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Re: 'Signed, Sealed, Delivered, Itís Yours'

A good reminder to write down all the stuff I try to tell DH, but he fakes a seizure and lapses into a fake coma when I start talking!

Sarah
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Re: 'Signed, Sealed, Delivered, Itís Yours'
Old 09-20-2006, 04:03 PM   #3
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Re: 'Signed, Sealed, Delivered, Itís Yours'

I'm in the process of putting together something like this.* Of course, my wife doesn't like me to talk about what would happen if something ever happens to me, but I definitely want to be prepared and have all finances in order so that she would know what to do and where to start.*

I have so many of our financial account numbers, usernames, passwords, etc. in my head that it's a really good idea to get all that stuff written down and put in a safe place, just in case.
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Re: 'Signed, Sealed, Delivered, Itís Yours'
Old 09-20-2006, 04:21 PM   #4
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Re: 'Signed, Sealed, Delivered, Itís Yours'

Quote:
Originally Posted by mclesters
I try to tell DH, but he fakes a seizure and lapses into a fake coma when I start talking!

Sarah
My dh does the same thing but last winter when I had to have minor surgery he became a little more serious and actually took the paper from my hand and looked at all the information, he then kibbied across the room and flopped on the sofa. Again the other night he asked where all the money was, I again showed him the papers and suggested that if something happen to me that he call one of his computer savy friends and have them help him.
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Re: 'Signed, Sealed, Delivered, Itís Yours'
Old 09-20-2006, 06:03 PM   #5
 
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Re: 'Signed, Sealed, Delivered, Itís Yours'

My wife is not interested in this stuff at all. But I have updated our Quicken Account to the MAX. I tell her it's all on Quicken. - Everything! - Account Numbers of all investments.

She understands Quicken as I have her update her checking account on it. - It is accurate, updated and complete. This is about the best I can do.
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Re: 'Signed, Sealed, Delivered, Itís Yours'
Old 09-20-2006, 07:34 PM   #6
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Re: 'Signed, Sealed, Delivered, Itís Yours'

There's a real problem with the write-down-everything-in-a-letter idea:

You have to remember to update it with every change in your finances.

If you open a new account and don't update the letter, that money could be lost.

So, it's much better to make sure spouse knows how to operate Quicken.
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Re: 'Signed, Sealed, Delivered, Itís Yours'
Old 09-20-2006, 07:42 PM   #7
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Re: 'Signed, Sealed, Delivered, Itís Yours'

A few years ago when I started traveling on my own and doing volunteer work in Mexico (which is where I am right now) I realized that I need to put all that information that Aaron was talking about, passwords, account numbers etc. on paper. So I created what I call My Control Journal. It has all our account information in it.

When I'm not in the States I usually still have access to the internet and am still able to pay most of our bills online and I know what is happening to all our accounts. But if DH has a question about something he has easy access to our accounts. A few years ago I started tracking all our expenses, investments and income on spreadsheets, DH never looks at those but he knows where they are if anything would happen to me.
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Re: 'Signed, Sealed, Delivered, Itís Yours'
Old 09-20-2006, 10:11 PM   #8
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Re: 'Signed, Sealed, Delivered, Itís Yours'

I also have kept a book since the mid 70's that has all of our assets/debts listed and what our net worth is each quarter. If anything happened to both of us, both kids know where this info is since they are grown up and financially independent.
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Re: 'Signed, Sealed, Delivered, Itís Yours'
Old 09-21-2006, 08:52 AM   #9
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Re: 'Signed, Sealed, Delivered, Itís Yours'

What Greg did for me:

http://early-retirement.org/forums/i...29740#msg29740
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Re: 'Signed, Sealed, Delivered, Itís Yours'
Old 09-22-2006, 09:31 AM   #10
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Re: 'Signed, Sealed, Delivered, Itís Yours'

I wrote a similar letter for my wife last year, because I am the one in the marriage who handles most of the financial stuff. It's not a substitute for a will obviously, but I see it as a way to leave a personal message to my wife specifically about our finances, written in a way that she would understand.

Al has a good point - you've got to keep the letter updated. So far I have tweaked it a few times as I have opened new accounts or made other changes. And I plan on revisiting it at least once a year to make sure it's accurate. I basically give a run down of all of our assets, debt, insurance, and other accounts, offer my recommendations on what I think she should do financially in the immediate aftermath of my death, and my general thoughts on what she might want to do long-term. But I also recommend to her that she consult with a trusted family member who will put her in touch with the right financial advisor/attorney if necessary. Because I can't predict every cirumstance or know how her goals might change down the road.

I also made a flowchart (I'm a geek) of our accounts and our monthly financial workflow. This shows all of our various asset "buckets" (and debt "holes") and also illustrates any automatic transfers that we have going on.

With all the other stress that my wife would be going through after I die, I hope that she at least won't be stressed out about figuring out what the deal is with our finances.
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Re: 'Signed, Sealed, Delivered, Itís Yours'
Old 09-22-2006, 11:23 AM   #11
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Re: 'Signed, Sealed, Delivered, Itís Yours'

Ok, this may sound really lame, but for the past 3 or 4 years between Christmas and New Years, I've put together an "annual report" for DW that we sit down and go over. The report includes the standard balance sheet (w/portfolio listing & net worth trend), income statement (mostly expenses w/trend), and cash flow. I do the "report" in powerpoint with "screnshots" from Quicken and save it each year.

DW looks forward to it about as much as a root canal, but she humors me for an hour or so.

Incidentally, I find that the exercise actually helps me quite a bit because it makes me document all the portfolio adjustments including the reasoning for any asset allocation changes (always fun to look back at those).

Also, it shows expenses by category (from quicken) and I can see if anything is out of line or ripe for "tuning".

(hint: DW's hair care expenses, no matter how high, are never ripe for tuning!)
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Re: 'Signed, Sealed, Delivered, Itís Yours'
Old 09-22-2006, 05:00 PM   #12
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Re: 'Signed, Sealed, Delivered, Itís Yours'

About 5 years the unthinkable happened to our best friends where we lived. We had been neighbors, co-workers (Bill and I were both engineers at the same company), members of the same choir at church etc.

Bill was retiring on Dec 31 at age 62 and they had all sorts of plans for traveling the world (they had a multi-million portfolio of savings and rental properties) and loved traveling abroad within the confines of Bill's annual vacation allowance. On the eve of Bill's very last day at work he dropped dead in the kitchen, never having any major illnesses or known medical problems. (turns out his metals were wrong - potassium I think - and his brain simply stopped telling his heart to beat).

Bill of course was the person who handled all the finances and Catherine had to figure it all out and learn how to do it all herself, which she eventually managed to do but it was a big struggle.

Anyway, the point of the story is that it was a wake-up call for DW. I began to teach and explain our situation and later that year we both went to night classes at the local university. Now she continues to be fully aware of what I am doing and we have plenty of discussions to be sure we make joint decisions and know why we make them. She recently RE'd so we discussed her 401(k) with TRP and existing SEP-IRA with Fidelity that she'd had for a good few years when she was self-employed. We decided on the right choice of funds then she did all the leg and phoning and subsequent manipulation of funds on the Internet to roll the 401(k) and SEP-IRA into a singer Roll-over IRA with Fidelity.

Hopefully she will never need to step into the breach like our friend, but if it happens she should be well prepared.
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