Bob, her husband of 20 years, had experienced his first heart attack at the age of 40.
Bob had a strong will to live and was determined to change his lifestyle and get in shape. He succeeded in both! However, four years later, while exercising, he suffered a fatal heart attack. Mary knew how to raise kids but did not know a stock from a Money Market account.
When Bob died, Mary lost not only her best friend but also her financial caretaker.
If you’ve lost a loved one, you know that it’s an emotionally draining, exhausting experience. Mary could barely think straight. She says that she was in a fog for six months, operating on autopilot.
She had to notify government agencies, fill out paperwork, file legal documents, deal with insurance companies, run Bob’s business, and pay hospital and doctor bills, and still take care of the kids. The financial decisions didn’t simply go away. In most marriages, one spouse tends to handle the finances more than the other. While Mary paid some of the bills and was always part of the big financial decisions, Bob enjoyed investing their money and running a very successful business. Mary’s job was to run the family.
Fortunately, Mary knew enough to have a basic understanding of their financial situation. And Bob left everything in good order so that Mary knew where to find the documents and records.
Dealing with financial affairs is not something everyone finds manageable. For the uninitiated, suddenly being responsible for such matters is very difficult. The task becomes monumental when you’re deep in grief with your head in a fog.
Being able to locate everything is only the first step. As Mary explained, “I knew every professional Bob dealt with, and I knew where everything was… But I didn’t know what to do with it all!” Even with the help of all the professionals, she felt overwhelmed.
Mary handled the estate like it was a job, committing several hours every day to work on it. Even with qualified assistance, it still took her more than a year to get the family’s investments in order.
More than 1 million Americans lose their spouses each year. Sadly, at some point down the road, you’ll likely experience what Mary went through.
If you’re managing your own money, it’s crucial to be prepared for the unexpected. What you really need is a plan. While you may have the experience to manage your family’s money, your spouse may not. That could put everything you ever worked for – years of effort to save, invest, and grow your nest egg – in jeopardy. Implementing any of these steps – or, better yet, all of them – will leave your family in a far better situation.
Estate plans can be useful for keeping your assets safe and can provide an additional layer of protection for you and your loved ones. Plus, it allows you to empower people who YOU choose who is familiar with your situation and ready to help. Be ready to review and update this plan every three years – or earlier, if your life or financial situation changes.
Having an organized estate plan is the greatest gift you can give your loved ones. Don’t assume they know what you know. No one looks forward to facing death or illness. But doing nothing makes hard situations close to unbearable.