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The "In case of Death" plan
Old 03-08-2019, 10:35 AM   #1
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The "In case of Death" plan

DW and I were talking about what we'd do if one of us died. Financially, we have set our pensions to be 100% survivorships. We plan on leaving the higher social security to age 70 (probably leave both SS to age 70), and Roth converting to the top of the 12% bracket as fast as possible so the survivor doesn't get dinged by heavy taxation.

A realtor would handle the sale of the house if one dies. One thing we don't have a handle on-----What is the most efficient way to sell belongings that would no longer be needed in the future survivor's life? Are there estate sellers that guarantee to work in the best interest of the client. I can see how this process could be severely abused to the benefit of the Estate selling company.

We've successfully planned and executed retirement. Now we want to create an efficient death plan if one of us bites the bullet early.
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Old 03-08-2019, 10:42 AM   #2
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I have stuff tagged in the house I want to go to specific people, so when I die, just turn it over and read the tag. I also have a list on my computer, printed out, that has the item and heir as well so folks don't have to go on an Easter egg hunt throughout the house. The list includes when and where I bought the item and it's original cost.
Everything else I donate to charity; a Hospice Thrift Store. DW and I are not at all interested in advertising to the world, including tweekers and other unsavory folk, what we have and where to find it when it comes to garage or estate sales. Too many bad people out there casing the joint to see what ISN'T for sale they can come back for later.
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Old 03-08-2019, 10:43 AM   #3
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We've been discussing this too. Our primary concern though is much more mundane, but time critical - if DW survives, will she know how to access my email (for e-Bills), the documents on my computer (in an encrypted virtual drive) or move money from investments into checking to pay current bills. We have joint banking and investment accounts.

The rest of the stuff - like portfolio balancing, IRAs etc, she'll have more time to figure out & can get professional help.

In terms of disposing off of goods, there are estate sales agents. My FiL went through one. See other threads on the forum on selling off your belongings. Much of it isn't worth the effort & you're better off just taking whatever you can get for it & being thankful for the convenience.


If I survive, I think the day to day stuff will be easy. Living without DW on the other hand...
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Old 03-08-2019, 10:47 AM   #4
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I periodically update a "Letter From Your Dead (or Incapacitated) Husband" with a lot of details on all of our financial accounts (banking, investments, insurance, et cetera) and suggestions on where to get help in terms of investing, taxes, and that sort of thing. I think I have a pretty good handle on things if DW predeceases me, but she isn't much into our financial details though I think she knows she needs to know more.

But we've both decided that when we are very old, after a very long, happy and healthy life together, we will kiss each other good night, turn out the lights, go to sleep and neither will wake up.

In some areas there may be agencies that specialize in estate sales, working for a cut of the action, so to speak. A lot of it, depending on bulk, weight and worth, may just be given away and maybe some charities may take some of it.
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Old 03-08-2019, 11:00 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by walkinwood View Post
We've been discussing this too. Our primary concern though is much more mundane, but time critical - if DW survives, will she know how to access my email (for e-Bills), the documents on my computer (in an encrypted virtual drive) or move money from investments into checking to pay current bills. We have joint banking and investment accounts.

The rest of the stuff - like portfolio balancing, IRAs etc, she'll have more time to figure out & can get professional help.

In terms of disposing off of goods, there are estate sales agents. My FiL went through one. See other threads on the forum on selling off your belongings. Much of it isn't worth the effort & you're better off just taking whatever you can get for it & being thankful for the convenience.


If I survive, I think the day to day stuff will be easy. Living without DW on the other hand...

I figure there will be a bit of a treasure hunt regardless of how much planning I do, but I wrote up a nice little 2 pager outlining the basics of everything. How to get access to my "stuff", including Safe Deposit, Online Account Logins/Passwords, the high-levels of my insurance policies and available benefits/investments as well as some burial wishes etc. It also lists out what legal documents I have on file to reaffirm if something might be "missing". Property is easy right now, it all goes to DW. I mean let's be real, she owns it, me and everything around it as it is, so why would it be different when I pass along lol.


This document is called "If kgtest dies READ THIS FIRST" It lists out where thumb drives are, and how I would want things to be handled. My biggest concern is for my heirs or surviving spouse to lose visibility or miss some entitlement or benefit, or liability that would cause them some grief. I'm sure there will be plenty of that as-is.



I'll tell you what, just the activity of pulling all this info together into one place along with the will, trust etc etc makes at least me feel better knowing the boxes are all checked.
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Old 03-08-2019, 11:28 AM   #6
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The 3 acre place we live requires serious yearly maintenance that I enjoy doing, and DW enjoys the benefits of my labor, but, in no way would she want to be burdened with that labor if I died. It's a given that our house would be sold. She'd probably move back to Hawaii and buy a nice condo close to the beach and just enjoy an easy life.

The higher ticket items, truck, boat, tractor, are probably the main things I need to figure out how to offload efficiently. Together, they probably are worth $40k, so, not talking major bucks. Probably over thinking the small potatoes, as long as the main financials are figured out and set in stone.

The recent Alex Trebec cancer story really got me thinking how fleeting life can be.
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Old 03-08-2019, 11:39 AM   #7
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My Dad passed away suddenly at 82. He was a very pragmatic guy, and had spent the last 20 years or more of his life "getting his affairs in order" for the inevitable. He did a great job, and left Mom and the rest of us well provided for. But --- despite all his preparations and organization, we were still finding relevant financial items (life insurance policies, DRIPs, cash in a desk drawer (!), etc.) months later.


Moral of the story -- no matter how organized you think your affairs are, there are probably things you've done along the way that won't be obvious to whoever comes along behind you. Try to put yourself in a stranger's place, and see if your records are truly transparent. Then do your best to keep them updated, because likely as not, the end won't come with an adequate warning.
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Old 03-08-2019, 11:47 AM   #8
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Much of it isn't worth the effort & you're better off just taking whatever you can get for it & being thankful for the convenience.
I agree with this, unless you have specific things of value. I've seen a couple cases around here where a golf widow will ask golf friends if anything is of value or if they want anything. Similarly, if the deceased was in a car club or other hobby where there might be tools worth something, one could ask what is of value. Jewelry might be one thing worth something. Personally I can't see how much of anything I own has much value and in my death letter I recommend just donating what isn't wanted.

Reminds me of the joke of an older guy facing his demise. He tells his wife,
"You should remarry. You're young enough, and I want to know you'll have companionship."

Wife doesn't really know what to say about that, so says nothing.

Husband pauses a minute and says, "But don't let him use my golf clubs. That just seems wrong to me."

His wife replies, "Of course not dear, I understand....besides, he's left-handed."
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Old 03-08-2019, 12:00 PM   #9
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If you are emptying the house or largely so, there are plenty of estate sale specialists who will handle the sale and cleanout for a cut. It may be a large cut if you have low value"stuff", but at least the house got emptied with minimal effort on your part.
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Old 03-08-2019, 12:48 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ziggy29 View Post
I periodically update a "Letter From Your Dead (or Incapacitated) Husband" with a lot of details on all of our financial accounts (banking, investments, insurance, et cetera) and suggestions on where to get help in terms of investing, taxes, and that sort of thing. I think I have a pretty good handle on things if DW predeceases me, but she isn't much into our financial details though I think she knows she needs to know more.

....
I have a similar letter. It is addressed to DW and could also be used by DS if she is not alive. I store it in the bank safe deposit box. I've shown it to DW and occasionally remind her of it. For strategy I mention a few stock/bond ideas but she can go to Vanguard and get a decent strategy which would be much less complex then mine.

I've also gone over how to get onto the PC and look at the accounts. I plan on periodically quizzing her and hopefully she will learn better over time. She has learned Lastpass and can put some stuff in there ... it has secure notes on it. Also I maintain a printed out set of key passwords for both of us.

I wouldn't sweat the small stuff like furniture unless it really bothers you or you have multiple heirs. Most of this is just for piece of mind while we are alive and kicking.
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Old 03-08-2019, 01:05 PM   #11
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While I do most of the day-to-day financial stuff DW is very definitely in the loop and could pick up tomorrow if she had to. In fact she has, a few times when I was in the hospital.

We've had that conversation, and the instruction is to go through the house and pick out what she wants to keep and then call an auctioneer to "make the rest go away". We did that with a lot of FIL's stuff, and those folks are very efficient at what they do. While I do have some esoteric stuff, it isn't valuable except perhaps to a very narrow cohort that would be hard to find on short notice. So the easiest and least stressful thing to do for her is to simply pitch it.
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Old 03-08-2019, 01:11 PM   #12
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Nothing fancy. The three ring binder contains all information. Furthermore I have no desire to manage from the grave.
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Old 03-08-2019, 01:13 PM   #13
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Wow, a lot of good ideas here. I did a few things so that after my passing, DS can easily figure out where everything (mostly financial info) is. They include investments, and on-line account information for CC, utilities, etc.. After reading through the posts, I will start something with a lot more detail. Thanks for the OP and other contributors.
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Old 03-08-2019, 01:25 PM   #14
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I generally handle most of the finances between my wife and I. But if she needed to, my wife would figure it out quickly enough. Between handling her parent's estate in the past and working in credit unions, savings & loans, and banks for 40+ years, she has a pretty good idea of what would need to be done.

That said, I am more concerned about what the family would do with our PCs and laptops if I passed away before they did. I handle all of their maintenance and replacement, and my wife knows very little about administering them. I was just reminded of this when I replaced an internal hard drive (for backup data) on my PC that was showing signs of read/write issues and had thrown a couple of Uncorrectable Sector Count errors.

The hard drive was replaced yesterday, and I am now in the process of securely erasing the data on the old hard drive (via a backup PC we rarely use). My fear is they would either (a) send my PC to some recycle shop with the hard drives unerased, or (b) leave the PC as is and susceptible to physical theft and possible breach of personal information.

Maybe even more than providing instructions on our financial accounts, I need to give them explicit detail on how to manage the PCs and the drives (internal *and* external).
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Old 03-08-2019, 03:41 PM   #15
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DW and I were talking about what we'd do if one of us died. […]
Thanks for starting this thread.

Coincidently, I initiated the "What should each of us do if the other one dies first" conversation today after lunch, for the very first time in our close 19-year relationship. I thought he'd be annoyed at the reminder of mortality, but he was very upbeat and said that this is very logical, and that we are at an age where we need to figure this out.

We'll need several follow-up discussions later, but at least we got started on it, which was the hard part. Overall, getting everything figured out and/or arranged will be a big load off my mind. It helps that we don't have any financial entanglements at all, but it doesn't help that we aren't married, neither has a will yet, and neither has a large, close, nearby family. So we need to take the bull by the horns and get 'er done.
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Old 03-08-2019, 04:35 PM   #16
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83rd year and 60 years of marriage. We're both aware of what needs to be done, where things are located and have wills and lists that identify everything.... Just things we've done over the years to keep each other in the know.

That said, a regular update with my four sons and their wives... to know as much as we do, as well as the plans for whatever comes next. No secrets.

All deeds, titles, policies, and anything financial are all in a safe deposit box, along with locations of memorabilia, pictures and family history.

Fortunately, one daughter-in-law, is a lawyer, and two years ago had to sort out her aunt's non-will. A three month ordeal that taught lessons that no one should ever have to learn.

As far as decluttering, identifying belongings of value, and like that? The kids know what is what and will handle the disposal, surely no great value, so that the final emptying of the home would be to Goodwill, the Salvation Army, Got Junk?, and Waste Management.

Actually, we don't plan to die here, anyway... as doing stuff gets more difficult, we'll move to the Apartments here in Liberty Village... or assisted living, or Memory Lane, or the nursing home... whatever works.

So... not to minimize the planning thing, but we have spent enough time looking ahead to be comfortable with whatever happens.

We enjoy every day... a little more than the day before. The early morning "hug" starts off every day on a positive note.
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Old 03-08-2019, 04:39 PM   #17
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I'm glad DW is somewhat interested in the financial plan. She is receptive to the financial discussions we have, and gives input or asks questions, so, I know she's engaged. However, she totally hands over the reigns to taking financial actions (of which I gladly hold).

Financially, she would do fine (with me dead), even though, she may not follow the Roth conversion plan, due to lack of care/understanding or both. Probably not a big deal to concern myself with, since the investments of our retirement portfolio are more of financial insurance backstop, and not needed for day to day living expenses.

Edit: OOPS, now that I think about it, she would be filing single if I'm dead, therefore, she would exceed the 12% bracket, therefore, Roth conversions may not be in her favor. Back to the drawing board on this issue!
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Old 03-08-2019, 06:45 PM   #18
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I have always handled our finances in our 40 year marriage. When I had an aortic valve replacement in 2013 I put all our accounts, account numbers, passwords, monthly bills, assets etc. on a master ( password protected) list which is in the safety deposit at the bank.

I update it frequently with any changes. DD has access to the safety deposit boxes and know our master password for everything.

We did up our wills and have sold our primary house and actually rent a small updated house from our DD.

I feel we have done everything we can to make it much easier for our two kids to muddle through. DH could figure it all out if I passed before him, with the help of the master list I created and update frequently.
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Old 03-09-2019, 05:08 AM   #19
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I have a 3 ring binder with all of our financial info, trusts, passwords, etc... It starts with "Corn's dead, now what...?" Since I do all the finances, I didn't want a lot of cornfusion after I died. Did I miss stuff? I'm sure. But the diatribe begins with where the liquid money is that she can live on for the next year and not worry about a thing.
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Old 03-09-2019, 06:23 AM   #20
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BFB Big Fat Binder 2-1/2" D-Ring with 30 dividers and index sheet. In front are the wills. Then an instruction sheet (3 pages), explaining various items, what to do, account access, spreadsheet references, etc.

Each divided section has a statement from the account or investment. That should make it easier to transition.

Each kid knows, "There is THE binder. Start there."
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