Friday, November 17, 2006
For What It's Worth: Death of a Spouse
It is a situation you can never be fully prepared for. Losing a spouse is devastating. But, For What It's Worth, 7's Craig Stevens shows us why you need to discuss your family's finances before it's too late.
WSVN -- For Susana, life has never been the same since she received a phone call from her son earlier this year.
Susana: "Half an hour later my son called me, and he says, 'Mother, don't worry. I'm in the hospital.' I say, 'What happened?' He says, 'My father had a heart attack.'"
Her husband Myses, the love of her life for 42 years, would never recover and never come home. But not only was it an emotional burden but a financial burden.
Ben: "He took care of all the finances, took care of all the issues, the problems. He took all the responsibilities."
Their situation is not unusual. Like so many other families, one spouse operates the checkbook, often leaving the other person lost and confused.
Ken Wurtenberg: "Overnight, you -- the person who's non-financially oriented and just barely knows what's in the checking account on a day to day basis -- inherits all these problems instantly."
That is why according to 7 News financial expert Ken Wurtenberg it is mandatory to discuss your money in detail.
Ken Wurtenberg: "To sit down with the spouse on a weekly, bi-weekly, monthly basis and go over the bill paying -- for example, what we owe in debt."
Also, make a list of all bank and broker accounts. Include names of financial institutions and account numbers.Plus, have a contact list of all professionals -- your CPA, lawyer, financial advisor and insurance agent.
Tell each other any online banking user names and passwords and keep copies of important documents in a safe place.
Ken Wurtenberg: "From retirement plan assets to other investments we might have, from insurance policies, etc., have copies of these important documents in a safe deposit box perhaps."
Then, when it comes to tax time, make sure you know where your spouse keeps all the tax papers.
Ken Wurtenberg: "It's a very difficult chore or process for someone to go through those records not even knowing what records to gather, to bring to their tax professional, or to do their income tax returns, because they've never done it before."
Susana regrets not learning more. Today, she's getting help from from her son, but she only wishes Myses was here to hold her hand.
Susana: "Eventually, time has a way of healing. But we never forget."
Ken suggests that it's also a good idea to name a beneficiary on your bank accounts.This way, if something unexpected does happen, you don't have to go through tedious paperwork.
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