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Everyone Needs To Know: Pitfalls of Designating One Person in a Family to be in Charge of Finances

“I have no interest in learning about finances. My [husband/wife] takes care of that.”

I have heard this statement from many clients throughout my career, and I understand the sentiment that prompts this response. Human nature has shown that when groups of people come together, they divvy up tasks to different individuals based on their strengths or roles in the group. You see this in many different groups, including families. My wife cooks dinner, and I’m great at taking out the garbage. With my siblings, I’m great at being the peacemaker while my sister knows how to shine a light on different perspectives. These established roles help our family units function smoothly and effectively…

Until one of the pieces of our unit is no longer around.

I’ve seen it far too many times. Clients come in distraught and overwhelmed because they’ve lost a loved one who typically acted as the family’s Chief Financial Officer. Sometimes they don’t know if there is a will or where legal documents are saved. Perhaps they are aware of a family safety deposit box, but they’re not sure where it is or how to access it. They aren’t sure about account balances or how to read statements. They may not even have access to critical accounts because the deceased was the one who knew the passwords. Now they are dealing with grief and heartbreak, compounded by confusion as to what the next steps are for maintaining their family’s financial solvency.

This is why I insist that both parties in a marriage are involved in financial planning meetings and decisions. I also recommend, especially for my senior clients, that other family members or loved ones are aware of the basics of their financial plans. It makes things so much simpler if all important documents, including a list of passwords, are stored together. If security is a concern, there are plenty of third party vendors that will virtually store that information for you. In most cases, though, a virtual safekeeper of your important information isn’t ideal. What is really needed is someone who will help guide your loved ones during that difficult time. That’s when a financial advisor can be an invaluable asset. I have had many Trilogy clients express how relieved they are to know that their financial advisor will be around to guide and assist the loved ones after he or she has passed. At Trilogy Financial, we don’t consider it a job. We consider it an honor and a calling.

There is a saying that it takes a village to raise a child. The truth is, it takes a village to care for anyone. Please make sure that your village is prepared and has the proper tools to take care of you. If you’re not sure where to begin, you may want to meet with a financial advisor. Our Trilogy Advisors are not only trained to assist your family on how to prepare for the future, but will also be there to provide support and service during a difficult and overwhelming time.

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