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Leaving behind a spouse who is not an investor?
Old 11-05-2016, 10:32 AM   #1
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Leaving behind a spouse who is not an investor?

I was rethinking how to handle DW's investor education now. This would be just to ease my mind that all would work out well for her in the event that I die before her. She is not involved in finances except to occasionally hear my reports and cheer our portfolio on. She considers finances important but would rather I take care of it all and inform her. This works as I'm happy to analyze and contemplate this stuff.

So first I thought of taking a small amount of our Vanguard money and having her choose how to manage it. This would be a model for her in case she needs to manage everything. But then I thought of the worry and stress and other lifestyle decisions she would have should I go suddenly. It would not be realistic to think she could handle all this at once.

The simpler solution for us: DW could use Vanguard's Personal Advisory Service which costs 0.3% of managed assets. This would be an immediate crutch. It would also help with tax questions that would come up. She would still need a local tax person to fill out the forms. After a few years she might consider managing things on her own and just using free VG advise once a year. Of course, this is an obvious easy out and somewhat costly to implement. But it is realistic I think for an older spouse who never had the direct responsibilities they would inherit.

So I wrote this up in outline form along with a list of other things to take charge of. She read the new revision and we tucked it into our safe deposit box. Now I can worry a little less.

So what are your plans? Are they well understood by your spouse?
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Old 11-05-2016, 10:58 AM   #2
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Is it possible you're overthinking this a little?

The first part of your post:
Quote:
She is not involved in finances except to occasionally hear my reports and cheer our portfolio on. She considers finances important but would rather I take care of it all and inform her. This works as I'm happy to analyze and contemplate this stuff.
could have been written by me.

But DW is very, very smart. She says she would be able to figure it all out quickly if she needs to, and I believe that. So a simple summary document she can refer to meets our needs. I keep it updated with the necessary details.
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Old 11-05-2016, 11:12 AM   #3
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Very simple, very straightforward.

DW knows who handles our tax. She knows and meets with our investment advisor.

She has access to our bank and investment accounts since much of our assets are in her name even though she has little interest in them.

We keep an asset list-really a list of various bank and investment accounts. As much for our children's sake as each others.

Apart from that she is intelligent enough to fill in any blanks that she might encounter. She has made it to age 62 so I think she can go the rest of the way without any major challenges to her acumen. She can handle anything that life throws at her.
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Old 11-05-2016, 11:21 AM   #4
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DW is smart but has zero interest. When we talk about it, she says she could work at it. Meanwhile I am making it as simple as possible. Having assets in Mexico makes it slightly harder. Bill payments etc.
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Old 11-05-2016, 11:29 AM   #5
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This sounds very much like my situation. My wife is informed about our finances but does not have a deep level of interest in being actively involved. My solution, somewhat similar, a letter in our safety deposit box with some general, and some specific instructions. For the tax deferred assets my main reco was to reduce the number of funds to 3 Vanguard index funds and Wellesley.

For the taxable accounts, a slow set of moves to simplify our accounts.
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Old 11-05-2016, 11:38 AM   #6
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DW is not savvy and has intense and conflicted thoughts and emotions concerning wealth. Living wills, Powers of Attorney, and similar plans are also simply topics that are off limits for discussion. Hopefully sometime over the next decade I'll be able to broach the subject. But the vanguard service may not be enough. I expect to assign a trustee to help her (or us, in case my mind fades like DM).
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Old 11-05-2016, 11:57 AM   #7
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I have tried for years to get DH interested or at least involved in our finances. He's gotten as far as being able to sit and listen without getting itchy and queasy and running out of the room.

Since retirement he is willing to handle cash and will pay attention when I have something to discuss. But I know his heart isn't in it and he's doing it just because he knows it's important to me. After 40 years I know he's not going to change.

As for if I die first, I've told him to inform the pension system that he no longer has a spouse and he will get an increase to the single benefit instead of the 100% to survivor benefit. Our investments are at Vanguard with him as the beneficiary of my IRAs all in leave it and forget it types of mutual funds.

One of our sons would be very capable of assisting DH in consolidating things and offering some simple advice.

In our situation DH could get by just fine with the pension direct deposit and all the payments on auto.

As for taxes...... if our son couldn't do it for him, maybe he'd need a tax preparer. I show DH the tax return every year and explain the pertinent parts. He knows where the paper copies are filed. I think.

Yikes, this post makes me realize how unprepared he would be.

I see I'm not the only one who married an opposite.
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Old 11-05-2016, 12:40 PM   #8
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My husband has no interest other than the weekly report I send him. If I go before him, he knows to leave everything pretty much as it is in Vanguard, Fidelity, TD Ameritrade and our banks. We have a tax accountant that my husband likes and he can advise my husband if he needs help. I'm glad he has no interest. We have friends that their finances come to a standstill at times because they can't agree on where to invest a bonus. When one of us gets a bonus, I'll ask him if he has any thoughts on where to invest and he asks what I think. I've done well investing so far so he trusts my research. I pay all of our bills and most of that is on autopilot. My husband is smart enough to figure things out. Our finances aren't that complicated.
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Old 11-05-2016, 01:19 PM   #9
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Most of us would like to be fondly remembered after we die. I would think that the easiest way to offend a modern woman would be to give her cookbook instructions to follow when she becomes single again. If I were still married, I would do what I will do single- be sure I have no messes, be sure everything is find-able, and butt out.

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Old 11-05-2016, 02:15 PM   #10
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Also I think I will leave a note for her next spouse. Welcoming him to look after her as well as I did!
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Old 11-06-2016, 09:07 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sue J View Post
I have tried for years to get DH interested or at least involved in our finances. He's gotten as far as being able to sit and listen without getting itchy and queasy and running out of the room.

[...]

Yikes, this post makes me realize how unprepared he would be.
I'm in the same situation as you, Sue. DH is nine years older than me so the odds are good I will survive him, but you never know.

I've simplified our finances considerably so they can run pretty much on autopilot. Still, this thread reminds me of additional items I should have in place justincase.
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Old 11-06-2016, 09:46 AM   #12
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I've given up on DW and DS. Their lack of interest in financial matters both astonishes and aggravates me but since DW has a pension and DS has an engineering degree, I do my best to not fret about it. I am, however, focusing a great deal of attention during estate planning to taking good care of the grandkids!
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Old 11-06-2016, 10:12 AM   #13
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I've given up on DW and DS. Their lack of interest in financial matters both astonishes and aggravates me but since DW has a pension and DS has an engineering degree, I do my best to not fret about it. I am, however, focusing a great deal of attention during estate planning to taking good care of the grandkids!
Letting loved ones take care of themselves is certainly an option. But sometimes there are particular ongoing home financial details that should be mentioned. That is why I favor putting it in a letter that can be updated every few years. I put it on a spreadsheet so I can just rewrite segments of it.

It is as much to take care of the aggravation or worry that the writer feels as anything else. So I just do it and then let the matter rest.
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Old 11-06-2016, 10:14 AM   #14
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Many of the responses thus far depict the spouse as being very bright but uninterested. Could be that the spouse is uninterested because it is already being taken care of.

When my late father was told he had terminal cancer, he put together a nice little indexed binder telling my late mother how to do the things he normally did, including house maintenance, investing, and so on.

Despite being fearful of investing, after his death she proceeded to become a better investor than he ever was. I think the main help from the binder was just getting her started.

You never know until the spouse is confronted with these tasks, how well he/she may do with them. He/she may become surprisingly interested in investing after taking over that responsibility.
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Old 11-06-2016, 10:49 AM   #15
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DW doesn't really like to cook much. But she has developed some very nice dishes over the years. I think maybe she really does like to cook good balanced dinners. She doesn't try to get me into cooking which I don't really want to do. I do show lots of appreciation for her meals.

I guess this is similar to her disinterest in the financial stuff but her appreciation of the results.
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Old 11-06-2016, 01:54 PM   #16
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Many of the responses thus far depict the spouse as being very bright but uninterested. Could be that the spouse is uninterested because it is already being taken care of.

When my late father was told he had terminal cancer, he put together a nice little indexed binder telling my late mother how to do the things he normally did, including house maintenance, investing, and so on.

Despite being fearful of investing, after his death she proceeded to become a better investor than he ever was. I think the main help from the binder was just getting her started.

You never know until the spouse is confronted with these tasks, how well he/she may do with them. He/she may become surprisingly interested in investing after taking over that responsibility.

I agree. I handle finances and bills, but DH is totally capable. His response is that I find it enjoyable and he doesn't want to cheat me of that joy. He does ask if I have everything documented just in case. Of course I do
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Old 11-06-2016, 02:45 PM   #17
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My wife is not too involved in the investments now but would be capable. Also, she could get assistance from our (free) Fidelity advisor. I think your ideas for your wife to do a trial run and/or to use Vanguard are fine.
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Old 11-06-2016, 02:49 PM   #18
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My wife is not too involved in the investments now but would be capable. Also, she could get assistance from our (free) Fidelity advisor. I think your ideas for your wife to do a trial run and/or to use Vanguard are fine.
VG also does free advise but I think this is more like once a year. I've never really tried it. The VPAS is more interactive and I believe one can call them up when worries or changes require it i.e. more hand holding and perhaps more customized.
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Old 11-06-2016, 02:53 PM   #19
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This is a semi frequent topic around here. In our family's case I'm the money person, and DH is the one who's happy to let me do it.

I've written an "in case of death" letter that lets him know where all the money is, how the bills are paid, and everything financial - both small picture (here's how you pay the utilities) and big picture (here's our asset allocation - and why).

I've also left suggestions that he either continue what I was doing (index funds with periodic rebalancing), or put half in Wellington, half in Wellesley, or use Schwabs robo investing.

We talk about this stuff regularly - but he doesn't want to be bothered for now... so I update the document whenever necessary and he knows where it is.
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Old 11-06-2016, 10:42 PM   #20
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My goal is to simplify things.
So I've sold off an investment property in another country as a way of removing some complexity of the tax return
That and slowly getting out of individual stocks and just having a bunch of various etf's and some bond funds.
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