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The Dress Rehearsal No One Gets: ONE SIMPLE STEP

The Rehearsal for what will happen when you are no longer here
By:  Michelle Smalenberger, CFP® - Vice President and Financial Advisor

Have you ever caught yourself curiously considering any of the following questions?

“Who will attend my funeral?”

“Will there be money to leave to my heirs?”

“How will that money be spent?”

“Will my loved ones be taken care of?”

“What does the process REALLY look like after I am no longer here?”

The truth is that every day we are responsible and in control of the decisions we make.  We choose to get up and go wherever the day may lead.  But none of us knows the day when we can longer choose to get up and go.  Does this sound morbid, sad, or make you feel fearful?  It is reality that not even one person has naturally remained alive in their physical body forever. 

Letting this reality sink in for a moment can now lead to refreshing action to live with clarity, purpose, and refreshing conversation.  There are pieces of this Dress Rehearsal that will never happen, but one that doesn’t have to be unclear is that of your financial remains.  I work with many clients before, during, and after a loved one has left our lives.  I can assure you that by making this one area of your life clear you help yourself while you are living and your loved ones for a day in the future.

Where should you start?  Below are steps for a Dress Rehearsal to gain clarity and find points of pain.  If you can answer these with a resounding “Yes, I have these in place” or “Yes, I have done this”, then you are making great strides for the future:

Schedule a meeting with the person you have selected to act for your financial matters after you pass away.  If it’s your spouse, then it may be as simple as making the time for this exercise.  Then do the following:

1)  If something happened to me RIGHT NOW, do you know where to find needed information to act on my behalf?

2)  If you really want to know how good your system is and this is a loved one, maybe let them search where they would go to see if they can find what is needed.  (You must trust the individual in this position.)  The idea here is that organization to one person is different to another person.

** While you are reading this, your stomach may drop then I would suggest you let them see what they can find.  IF you do feel this, it may be a good indication that you should strongly consider the individual you have in this position.  If you don’t like the thought of them going through your personal belongings while you’re alive, would you after your death?  It may be ok, but please consider these individuals carefully.

Characteristics of a qualified person:

-       A spouse or loved one who is aware of the financial transactions that happen regularly in your household  (expenses, income, maybe investment and assets too)

-       A family member you trust that has experience handling an estate or financial affairs of another person

-       A family member you trust that may work as a Financial, legal, or tax planning profession

-       Consider the age of the individual and the life events they may be dealing with while also managing your financial affairs

-       Consider their ability to manage multiple items at once to get things done

-       Consider if this person has similar life affairs so they will be educated on what to do

Make sure you have clear lists or notes of instruction.  If you have a financial advisor it could be as simple as leaving their contact information in a place that’s easy to find for responsible individuals to call when it becomes necessary. 

The largest takeaway is that if you leave things to chance, there is a high likelihood that your wishes or goals will not be carried out as you wished.  By doing some advance planning and organization you save yourself and your loved ones time, hassle, and even money.  Disorganization can cost you money if things are not handled properly.

Planting seeds of fear is not necessary for us to call people to action.  What can be helpful is reading someone else’s account and experience to share that there is value in planning ahead.  Read the following article of one family’s experience in the Wall Street Journal of getting involved when they were acting later than hoped... Click HERE.

As always, we can help you get organized, create a financial plan, and maintain that into your future!  Please call if we can be helpful to you or someone you know.

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