As a wealth advisor and chair of the Women’s Wealth Counsel, Liz Niehaus guides clients through unexpected life events, while Lauren Stanfield specializes in estate planning strategy. In this Viewpoint, they collaborate to provide an integrated view of how to prepare for the unpredictable.
Truepoint recently hosted a successful Women’s Wealth Counsel event focused on “Preparing for the Unexpected.” We discussed best practices for managing the aftermath of life’s emergencies and distributed step-by-step information sheets to use in the event of a loved one’s death, a divorce or job loss. Additionally, attendees received a “Go Book” to help document the location and details of important personal, household, and financial information. Although these tips and tools were initially prepared for the women attending the event, we want to share them more broadly since they can be very helpful for anyone faced with a life-changing event. No matter who in your family handles bill paying, taxes and investments, it is essential that everyone know how to access assets and other financial information and know how to reach the family’s key advisors.
Be Ready with Information Sheets
Although we all hope these events do not occur, it is reassuring to know you are organized if you must deal with death, divorce or job loss/disability. Click on the subtitles to access the specific info sheet for each event. Highlights from each sheet’s suggestions include the following points:
- Now is the time to complete your estate documents, including a will and trust as well as ancillary documents such as a financial power of attorney, healthcare power of attorney, and living will.
- Any assets held by an individual should list either beneficiaries or a “transfer on death” designation. This will allow them to pass directly to the designee(s), avoiding probate.
- Pre-planning your own final arrangements will make it much easier for your loved ones.
- First and foremost, do not make any rash decisions. Contact an attorney as soon as you know divorce is being contemplated.
- Both spouses need to understand their financial situation, review their tax return, and know where accounts and insurance policies (life, health, house, etc.) are held.
- Both the husband and wife should request their credit reports annually to ensure the credit and debt reported for each of them is accurate.
- Plan for the future by setting aside funds sufficient to cover living expenses for three to six months.
- Verify that you have appropriate levels of disability insurance and also secure a home equity line of credit that you can tap into if necessary. These sources of emergency funds will help ensure that you won’t have to use your long term investments to stay afloat.
- Carefully review any severance agreement that may be offered in the event of a job loss and apply for unemployment immediately (or as soon as permitted under the terms of a severance agreement).
Be Ready with the Go Book
Truepoint has put together the Go Book to provide a “one-stop shop” for you to record the critical information you’ll need in the event of an emergency. Download a copy and then fill it out to keep track of contact information for your key advisors (i.e. attorney, accountant, financial advisor, executor), the location of your important documents (birth certificates, insurance papers, Social Security cards, etc.) and important information on your household finances. Due to the sensitive information contained in a completed Go Book, be sure to store it in a safe location, such as the Truepoint client portal.
- You’ll notice that the Go Book does not offer a spot to record passwords. This was intentional. Since passwords are changed frequently, we knew it would be difficult to remember to update the Go Book each time.
- Instead, we recommend you use a password aggregator such as LastPass or RoboForm. With both sites you only have to remember one password to login and then the aggregator generates (and remembers) a unique password for each website you visit. Since we recommend having different passwords for each website, using a password aggregator makes this an easy task.
- Both LastPass and RoboForm offer a free version of their software.
Using these information sheets and the Go Book will give you a running start – and peace of mind – if one of these jarring life events should occur in your family. Your Truepoint team is also here for you, ready and able to help as you prepare for (or deal with) life changes such as these. Give us a call anytime at (513) 792-6648.