The Blog Of TL Wall Accounting

Being Financially Prepared In The Case Of Death

Almost nobody wants to discuss the topic of death, which also means no one wants to discuss money as it concerns death. Yet every day someone passes away and a family or business is suddenly struggling to survive, let alone succeed.

Admittedly it’s a hard topic to discuss, especially with elderly family members, and the younger you are the less inclined you are to even plan for eventuality, let alone talk about it. Still, deciding not to address this 800-pound gorilla will cause others a lot of grief.

There are some things that are critical to know up front, before the demise of a loved one or business partner. Let’s look at some of the most important things that others need to know in case something happens to you… or them.

A-1. A Will

You’d think this this would be a no-brainer since so many people know what wills are, yet a Gallup poll in 2016 showed that 56% of eligible Americans don’t have one; AARP stated 60%. Baby boomers come in around 56% having them but having 44% of those between 53 and 71 years of age not being covered is scary.

A will is important because it establishes what the beneficiary wanted to happen with their assets instead of waiting for the courts to decide for family members. Sometimes an estate can sit in probate for upwards of 2 or more years, especially if it’s complicated, but even having only one beneficiary can get wrapped up in red tape in some states.

A-2. Where’s the will located?

This sounds like a strange issue but what happens is that many people who have wills either don’t tell people about it or mentions that there is one but doesn’t tell them where it is. There’s a lot of paranoia and worry that if people know there’s a will and that they may be in it that they might be overly interested in their assets.

This is a rare problem for anyone to worry about (unless the benefactor is super rich lol), but the best way to handle it is to find out the name of the law firm that put the will together. These days some people use an online service to create a will and in some states a written piece of paper that has at least one signature from a witness is good enough to be considered a will so that might make it a bit tougher.

B. Life/Burial Insurance

One of my present clients has his mother living with him. He knows she has both life and burial insurance, but doesn’t know what it is. His mother’s got dementia so she can’t help him and he’s been unable to find any paperwork telling him which insurance company her policy is with.

The thing about both of these is that they’re not part of probate or anything else, which means there’s no waiting period for them to be cashed in. This is especially important in making funeral arrangements but it could also be a benefit to the family if there’s no immediate access to family funds.

C. Bank Accounts

The problem here is when there’s only one person listed in a bank account without anyone else having rights to using the money. This is especially hard when one of the accounts is for business and there’s a lot of money that the business needs to keep running. It’s also important if the owner was a sole proprietor and most of the funds are in that account, which makes it hard for the family to use if they need to.

These issues can make for a tough conversation, but it’s a necessarily conversation to have.

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