Having the Difficult Discussion

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In my line of work, I have the unfortunate job of dealing with the passing of someone’s spouse, parent or sibling. 

In these moments of grief, I know how, if the details aren’t thought of ahead of time, the pain can be compounded with the frustration of navigating through the messiness of financial matters not thought of ahead of time.

Recently, this aspect hit home recently when a close friend quickly passed away, leaving his spouse and friends to deal with the remaining chaos. Dealing with finances at the time of grieving adds another level of stress and confusion.

I advise my clients to keep a list of all their accounts (checking, savings, CD, annuities, life, mutual funds, etc.) in their trust folder. If they don’t have a trust and own any property, that is the first thing they must do, along with their advisors’ names and phone numbers for each of those accounts. For the checking, savings, CD’s, etc., those accounts should have a POD (Payable On Death), and their passwords should be given to someone they trust.

The reason I say giving the password to someone they trust, you ask? What happens if the mortgage needs to be paid and yet the death certificate is not available yet? Even though the account may have the POD, until the death certificate is produced, only those on the account have the authority to access the accounts to take care of any necessities.

When it comes to a spouse having to deal with the financial decisions, the grief can cloud their choices, and that is why having a plan written out and discussed with the family and the advisor can take away one less decision to make since it has already been made. This is especially true when it comes to planning the funeral.

All the proper planning in the world will not be beneficial if the information cannot be found during the crucial days and weeks following the loss of a loved one or if not having a written-out plan and discussed with an unbiased advisor and attorney to help carry out those wishes. 

While the topic is maybe challenging to discuss, it is essential.

Brad Pistole of Ozark, Mo., is farmer and a Certified Financial Fiduciary®, Certified Annuity Specialist®, and CEO of Trinity Insurance & Financial Services, INC.

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