For your family’s sake, get your affairs in order | Insightful Investing

By Jeffrey Moormeier | May 03, 2017

If something were to happen to you, would your family know where to find your important documents?

Before anything horrible happens to you, there are some 25 document files that should be put together for easy reference. For example, passwords – passwords to your phones, computers, bank accounts, email, etc.

Do you have all the proper documents in one place so that your spouse, significant other or your heirs can easily find the proper documents to continue doing business or make medical decisions on your behalf?

In many families, there is generally one person more inclined to pay attention to financial matters. This is neither good nor bad, just fairly normal. And, generally, it is the person who makes the most money, but not always.

I would like to address the logistical issues that come up when this person is tragically taken out of the equation. In other words, what happens if the person who makes and controls the money in the family dies or has some type of debilitating illness?

This happens all too frequently. I had a 50-year-old client get dementia, and many wage earners die all too suddenly.

I am not talking about estate planning, which is part of the process. I am talking about the practical side of business continuity.

Consider this hypothetical scenario. Bill had his money in a trust. He was widowed and one of his daughters was the future trustee. He had a massive stroke and was in a coma for six weeks. His bills piled up and there was no easy way to get access to his bank accounts to pay his taxes, light bills and medical bills.

A simple solution would have been to have a joint account with his daughter with some money in it for just this occasion.

Another friend of mine got a call one evening that his daughter was in the hospital three states away where she was attending college. Since she did not have the proper medical papers on file, the hospital could not release the reason she was there. He booked an overnight flight and worried the whole time until he reached her. He found out that she had her appendix removed.

Imagine the trauma of not knowing. Having the proper medical release forms on file could have prevented this horrible situation.

Probably the most interesting case is that of my friend Dick. He has scrimped and saved his whole life, and his wife has never paid any attention to their finances.

Dick has saved close to $2 million and invested the money very conservatively. He has his money spread out all over town. He has never had an investment advisor, CPA or attorney. He has been the “man of the house.”

Dick has stage 4 cancer and has about six months to live. He is 63. He and his wife have no children.

Can you imagine the trauma his wife is going through? Not only is she facing losing her husband, but she is completely in the dark on how to conduct business. She has no trusted advisors, no idea on how to manage a sizable estate and, fortunately for her, no debts. In her case, she will be fine. This is a severe negative case.

Many times, there is a son or daughter in the picture that can help pick up the pieces. In Bill’s case, there were children, but the right documents where incomplete.

The challenge is that there is no one professional to put all these files together for you. Attorneys do some of the work, financial advisors help, and medical people are helpful, too. Ultimately, though, the responsibility is up to you.

Call me if you need a hand.

Here are the 25 documents you need: emergency contacts, medications and supplements, health insurance, health information and history, a living will or advance directive, medical power of attorney, durable or springing power of attorney;

Bank accounts, investments, retirement accounts, safe deposit box, credit cards, mortgage and loans, important financial contacts, personal insurance, property insurance;

Will and estate plan, funeral arrangements, identification, property and titles, important tax documents, online accounts and passwords, memberships and subscriptions, and any other important information and documents.


Jeffrey Moormeier of JG Moormeier Financial is a Mukilteo-based financial advisor affiliated with KMS Financial Services, an SEC registered investment adviser. His column does not represent the opinions of KMS Financial Services, nor is it an official prediction or recommendation of any kind. The opinions expressed in this column are generalizations. For advise catered to your specific financial circumstances, contact Jeff directly at or 425-931-8898.

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