Senior couple, adult children talking and drinkingIn my life­time I have become care­tak­er of the finances for 2 fam­i­ly mem­bers. For­tu­nate­ly for me, both were forth­com­ing about their finan­cial sta­tus, went over their finan­cial wish­es and instruc­tions and left things in order so that my job was easy. 

Look­ing back, I see how unusu­al this was and also a bless­ing. Like any­one deal­ing with the loss of a loved one, there is more than enough emo­tion­al griev­ing to han­dle. The last thing you need on top of that is con­fu­sion about the finances. 

You can make that jour­ney eas­i­er for adult chil­dren by being orga­nized and self-dis­clos­ing. The 7 areas where you need to be pre­pared, and how to pre­pare are as fol­lows:

 

Personal Data:

What to dis­close — social secu­ri­ty num­ber, pass­words, safe­ty deposit box, home secu­ri­ty alarm codes. 

How to make it eas­i­er -

  • Add your chil­dren to the sig­na­ture card for your safe­ty deposit box
  • Cre­ate a “Crit­i­cal Infor­ma­tion” sheet and share it with your chil­dren in hard copy or through the cloud (Drop­Box, Google Docs, etc.)

 

Contact Information:

What to dis­close — Names, phone num­bers, postal and email address­es for all of your key advi­sors

How to make it eas­i­er -

  • Intro­duce them to your key advi­sors such as your estate attor­ney and finan­cial advi­sor.

 

Location:

What to dis­close — Make sure your chil­dren know where your impor­tant doc­u­ments and papers are stored, such as, wills, pow­er of attor­ney, tax­es, mil­i­tary records, mar­riage cer­tifi­cates, and deeds. 

How to make it eas­i­er -

  • Make sure you have a fil­ing sys­tem that makes sense, and walk them through the sys­tem. 

 

Savings, Investments, Pensions and Retirement Accounts:

What to dis­close — A com­plete list of your accounts, where they are held, account num­bers, and con­tact infor­ma­tion. 

How to make it eas­i­er — 

  • Make sure your ben­e­fi­cia­ry infor­ma­tion is up-to-date.
  • Con­sid­er Pay on Death accounts as appro­pri­ate.
  • Con­sol­i­date as many accounts as pos­si­ble. 

 

Insurance

What to dis­close — A com­plete list of your insur­ance pol­i­cy num­bers by type with the car­ri­ers and con­tact infor­ma­tion not­ed (i.e. Life, Long Term Care, Dis­abil­i­ty, Umbrel­la, etc.)

How to make is eas­i­er -

  • Keep your ben­e­fi­cia­ries up-to-date.
  • Review your cov­er­age every 5 to 7 years or when a major life event occurs.
  • Give chil­dren spe­cif­ic instruc­tions about long term care direc­tives. 

 

Wills and Trusts

What to dis­close — The loca­tion of your wills and trusts, pow­er of attor­ney, liv­ing will, and med­ical direc­tives. Your estate attor­ney con­tact info. A detailed account­ing of how you would like your per­son­al effects han­dled and your wish­es in terms of a funer­al, memo­r­i­al ser­vices, or life cel­e­bra­tion. 

How to make it eas­i­er — 

  • For com­plex estates you should cre­ate a sum­ma­ry of key pro­vi­sions. 
  • Go through your will and trust with your Execu­tor. Don’t just skim through, be detailed. 
  • If you are leav­ing your assets to your chil­dren in some way oth­er than equal­ly you need to talk to them frankly about this. Oth­er­wise, your deci­sion could change their ongo­ing rela­tion­ship for­ev­er. 
  • Add your chil­dren to those who can get infor­ma­tion for your physi­cian. 

 

Real Estate and other assets:

What to dis­close — Loca­tion of deeds, leas­es, titles, and oth­er impor­tant doc­u­ments. 

How to make it eas­i­er — 

  • Use joint titling if appro­pri­ate for a smooth asset tran­si­tion

 

Many of us have hang-ups and taboos when it comes to talk­ing about mon­ey. As we age, these do not serve our adult chil­dren or us. Leav­ing your chil­dren guess­ing about your finances, insur­ance, and estate cre­ates unnec­es­sary wor­ry and stress. Take a leap and cross the uncom­fort­able divide. Speak clear­ly to your adult chil­dren about your wished. You will both be glad you did.