What happens when you get the dreaded phone call?  Dad is sick, mom is beside herself, and no one knows about their finances.

My heart goes to out to people when crisis hits.  Families need love and care during unexpected events and the very idea of even talking about money at the time of crisis seems somewhat unfeeling.  At no other time is it reinforced how little money means then when life is threatened.

And while seemingly unimportant in the grand scheme, finances are critically important to address with your closest family so they can care for you during tough times, instead of scrambling over financial details.  The focus in crisis should be on the family, and not the finances.

So what should you really share with your family?

What I’ve found is that a minimal listing of everything you own and owe is helpful.  Excel spreadsheets works great or there are other fancier resources through an advisor.  And, at the very least, making and sharing a plan for contingencies saves a lot of grief.  Your spouse and a “lead child” likely should know where the money and estate planning documents reside, contact information of your advisors, and forms of income.

It would also be helpful to know if short term or long term income needs were to increase, is that possible and how, and any repercussions of that change. Drafting a letter that has the following topics might be extremely helpful:

  1. Assets you believe may be best to tap for additional income and why
  2. Insurance policies, particularly long term care policies
  3. How you feel about assets being used for healthcare versus lifestyle or inheritance – even though this could be a touch subject.

The bottom line is that life is short and we will all one day be in need of someone executing a contingency plan on our behalf.  Your holding a minimal basic financial discussion with your family may just surprise you.  Guaranteed it will be a gift to them, one day.



This material is being provided for information purposes only and is not a complete description, nor is it a recommendation. Any opinions are those of Shari Burnum and not necessarily those of Raymond James.