Late last year, we received a very sad phone call from Susan, a young woman who was calling on behalf of her mom, Jane. Jane, age 64, was referred to us by her best friend (a Relaxing Retirement member).
The reason for the call was Jane’s husband Charlie had recently passed away after suffering a massive heart attack at the young age of 66.
Jane’s daughter Susan shared with me how difficult and overwhelming all of this was for her mom after suddenly losing her husband of 45 years.
In addition to dealing with the emotional trauma, Jane and her three grown children quickly discovered that they now had a host of problems that they had to deal with immediately.
And, they had no idea where to start.
Charlie was classic “old school” and kept all of his information and plans tight to the vest. The kids knew absolutely nothing about their parents’ affairs, and unfortunately, Jane wasn’t in the loop on much either.
Our Meeting with Jane and Her Kids
Jane’s son Kevin, and her two daughters, Susan and Laura, brought her to our office. Jane put up a strong front, but we could all see how devastated she was.
What we learned was that Kevin is married, has 2 children, and lives in Atlanta. Laura is married with three children and lives in Chicago. And, Susan is married with one daughter and another on the way. Susan’s lives locally so she organized everything.
As they all explained, Charlie was a real rugged individualist, a do-it-yourselfer, and a pack rat. Charlie paid all the bills, did all the banking, prepared and filed their income taxes each year, handled all of their investments, created their wills on-line, and purchased their insurances.
Because of this, Jane and her children had no clue where to begin. They didn’t know:
- Who to contact
- Attorney, financial advisor, insurance agent, or CPA?
- What funeral arrangements had been made
- What Charlie wanted in his obituary
- If they had a will or trust (Jane knew that Charlie had done something, but it was so long ago that she couldn’t remember any details),
- If Charlie had life insurance (Jane remembered him purchasing insurance, but had no idea if it was still in effect, and with what company)
- The password to their fireproof safe
- The keys to their safe deposit box at the bank
- Passwords to files on Charlie’s computer
- What bills to pay to stay current and maintain good credit
- Which insurance bills to pay and which to stop paying
- What vendors to contact
- How to handle their income taxes because Charlie prepared them himself each year
- Where Jane’s income will now come from
- Veteran’s services (since Charlie was a veteran)
- Social Security
- Charlie’s pension:
- Was there a joint and survivor benefit? How much?
- What investments they owned:
- 3 brokerage accounts: Merrill Lynch, Fidelity, and Scotttrade
- There were no Inherited IRA instructions
- Roth IRA
- Charlie’s 401(k) which was still being held at his former employer
- Limited partnerships
In short, it was a complete mess because Charlie left no instructions for anything, and hadn’t included Jane in any of his planning.
Jane felt helpless (and foolish), and Kevin, Laura, and Susan felt terrible because they didn’t know how to help their mom.
They didn’t know where to begin…
After going through this heartbreaking process with Jane and her children, it led me to conclude that we’ll never allow this to happen to one of our Relaxing Retirement members!
So, over the last eight months, we’ve created your solution to this horrific problem which you are now holding in your hands.
“What To Do When I’m No Longer Here” is the tool that everyone has been searching for to help them remove this enormous burden from their family.
My Recommendation For You
As difficult as this may be to do given the scope and underlying purpose of this project, try to put yourself in the shoes of your heirs. Try to picture them anxiously attempting to carry out your wishes, but without your presence to guide them.
Assume they don’t know anything that you know. Because of this, I recommend being as thorough and clear as you can.
To make this as simple as possible for you and your heirs, we’ve created a CHECKLIST under Tab 2, and we’ve broken it down into two subsections:
- “Immediately”, and
- “After the Funeral”
Each bullet point references the location of specific information you’ll provide for your heirs. For example: “see List in Tab 3”.
If you have any questions, require any assistance completing this for your family, please don’t hesitate to call us at (781) 235-7550, or email us at info@TheRetirementCoach.com.
We look forward to helping you make this as seamless as possible for you and your family.