Life is a journey, predictably full of the unexpected. We do our best to plan for the future we hope we will have, and then life events get in the way and throw us for a proverbial loop.
We have all experienced some variation of the unexpected. Sometimes, the unexpected can result in a positive change, and we count our blessings. It can get more challenging when an event has a negative outcome – you or a spouse lose a job or have a tough year in your business, a family member experiences a serious illness or disability, a child returns home after college with no future plans, and so on.
One of the most difficult experiences we face in life is the loss of a loved one, whether unexpected or not. Family members may be left with a lot of pieces to pick up and put back together, especially if they aren’t familiar or involved with the family’s finances. This can lead to uncertainty, and put a lot of pressure on the family at a time when they are least prepared to handle it. In our experience, when a person leaves a well-planned out path for their family, it provides some relief to their loved ones at a time of grief, even as their loss may still be difficult.
While we can’t be fully prepared for every possible contingency, we know there are smart things we can do to make life a little easier in the stressful times. So what can you do now to ease the burden on your loved ones in the event that some unexpected event prevents you from caring for your family?
- Keep a list of important websites, usernames and passwords in a secure location, and – most importantly! – tell someone where to find it. This list might include email accounts, websites where you store family photos, and social media sites, in addition to information about sites where you can access your bank accounts and other financial information. Make a note to update this list any time passwords are changed. There are a number of apps that are available to store personal information. In fact, PC Magazine rated the best password manager apps for 2017 in the following article: The Best Password Managers of 2017.
- Review your estate plan periodically with your attorney, at least every five to ten years, or sooner if you experience a significant change in your personal situation. Also, take care to review your beneficiary designations every few years. If you have young children, be sure that the guardians you have listed in your will are still appropriate.
- Consider keeping a list of contact information for trusted advisors and others who may be able to help fill in the blanks for your family members. If you rely on certain individuals to care for family members, pets, or even a second home, these might be useful contacts to include as well. There are web-based platforms, such as Everplans, that will store and organize this type of data for you, for a fee (www.everplans.com).
No matter where life’s journey may take you, please know that all of us at SJS Investment Services are here for you, all the time, every time. Let us know when and how we can help, whether by analyzing a financial decision, helping you understand a document, or just being there with an ear to listen.