Is this Gloomy and Morbid?
This may sound like a morbid topic, but it isn’t intended to be that way. Rather, it is a practical reality that every investor, at potentially any age, faces. Recently my wife and I have seen two men, one younger and one older than me, leave behind a widow. As I (infrequently) see an obituary, I always look to see how old the person was. It seems death doesn’t respect age, sex, financial resources, education, or anything else. As the common phrase goes, “nothing is certain except death and taxes.” If death is certain, and it is, then a wise person thinks about how to make their death less burdensome for their loved ones. So, what do people fail to do? They fail to help prepare their loved ones with an easier path.
James 4:13-14 “Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit’— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.” Before you vanish, help a loved one.
Some of the Priority Procrastinations
Very few people do everything on their list of to-dos with a sense of priority. So, while we know “someday” is next week, month, year, or next decade, we might not have that time available. People delay creating a will. They don’t think about how their loved ones will access important information or find needed documents. Their filing system is not a system.
Furthermore, in this age of complicated finances, we don’t just go out into the fields and count the sheep, cattle, and rows of corn. Most of us own shares of mutual funds, ETFs, stocks and perhaps even some bonds. If we have retirement accounts like IRAs and 401(k) accounts, we are or will be taking RMDs (Required Minimum Distributions.) I’m the keeper and doer of our investments and monitoring obligations and RMD’s and paying quarterly estimated income taxes. That makes my wife happy now. But some day she might not be so happy, especially if she has to take over some of what I do. We are blessed to have a son, a daughter, a son-in-law, and a daughter-in-law who are capable of helping us as we age, but I also don’t want to unnecessarily complicate their lives.
Shortening My Priority Procrastination List
So, with the death of two close friends, I finished something on my priority procrastination list. I created an eight-page instruction sheet to step Cindie through the process of doing an RMD withdrawal and how to determine the amount of Federal and Wisconsin income tax to withhold. I have not created a document to show how to pay estimated income taxes, but that is also on my priority procrastination list.
To create my instructions in Microsoft Word, I explained how to navigate the Fidelity Investments website with step-by-step instructions that tell her what I would enter and what I would click. The instructions include ten “figures” to illustrate what she should see on the web as she does each step. I use a tool called “Snagit” to do partial screen captures and then to put notations on each image. In fact, Snagit is used for just about every image I use on my blog or when I am sending information to a friend via email.
Here is a small example from the instructions I created for Cindie.
All scripture passages are from the English Standard Version except as otherwise noted.
Hello Wayne, That’s a great idea!. We have done similar to this but I would to consider to add the the following:
All personal financial accounts/ banks /credit card listings 2. Website username & passwords 3. All life insurance details and policy numbers plus agent’s name. Similarly, Auto, Home, Umbrella policy. Passport numbers & expiration 4. Former employer HR – number , health insurance as well as Pension fund numbers 5. Along with will, other documents such as power of attorney, Physician’s directives and any other trust documents 6. Social Security/ Medicare – Accounts & Passwords- prior year’s statements
We have put all together in a spreadsheet + PDF files and made copies available to my daughter. All details are kept in a personal diary at home as well as in a safe deposit box.
Thanks Suresh Ghadia
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Yes, all of those are things I have done as well. I need to keep some of them up-to-date, especially passwords. Thankfully, I have a password manager on my laptop and my wife and I have the same model and type of laptop with the same Microsoft login code, so she will be able to get to my password manager. Thanks for sharing! We have also made documents available to our children as well. When Cindie and I traveled to India we wanted them to have everything they might need to get started if we did not return.