The Letter You Should Write Your Spouse


Video Transcript:

Hi, I’m Dave Shepherd with Shepherd Wealth and Retirement, and I just wanted to go over something I think all families should address to help their spouses and other family members when they pass away.

Is important because I’ve never seen anybody in all my years, the thing that always hits me is how hard it is to lose a spouse, as well as anybody, but especially the spouse that took care of the money when maybe the other spouse didn’t. So I’ve just seen this happen so much, and I think it’s so important to have a plan in place and really do a lot of extra things for our spouse and our family, and we call it the Suddenly Alone Game Plan that we put together and that we’re working on to help addressing this for you and help you with this.

But I just want to give you an idea. I think the thing I can do is give you an idea on what I’m doing for my wife. And that will give you an idea on what you could maybe do for your spouse. So what I have done, along with the estate-planning documents that we have, and the other materials that are set up, and discussions with my son, David, who would be my successor trustee, and all the other preparations we’ve had with professionals is actually writing my wife a letter to tell her where I think she’ll be at and the things that I think will be important for her in the future.

So I just want to give us some examples of some topics that might be beneficial for you, too.

So, Dear Maryann, these are some items that will help you in the transition upon my death and some principles and values that can help guide you with your financial resources.

Number one, business succession and ongoing management, and I talk about how it’s already set up, and what she needs to do, and what she doesn’t have to worry about.

Number two, our trust is set up to protect you, our children, and grandchildren from predators and creditors as much as possible. You’ll have to do your part to keep it that way, et cetera,  so giving her some ideas there.

Number three, if you get remarried, I would suggest keeping your finances separate, et cetera, et cetera. And this comes from all the clients that I’ve worked with over the years and seen this happen and either seen things work really well or saw things that didn’t work as well on remarriage.

Number four, annually, I would do the following and review it with your advisors. Are taxes as low as possible, et cetera? Is your spending comfortable and within your investment return or cash flow you’re making? Are your investment assets optimized for current market conditions? Review your expenses annually, and comparison shop for each service. You must purchase every two years, as an example.

Number five, when picking advisers, I think you want to look for four basic things. And I’ll just give you a summary of those. Are they independent business people paid directly by you? Can you understand them and trust them? Does their advice make sense, for example?

Number three, when dealing with financial advisers, always use a third-party custodian that’s independent from the advisor, and they legally have to provide accurate statements to you.

And number four, being proactive, to me, is a very important quality. Having someone that is looking ahead for your best interests is important, et cetera, et cetera. So, those are the four things on “when picking advisors, I think you should look for.”

But number six in my whole list was, these are the people or advisers I currently trust and believe you can trust. And I list an attorney, a CPA, property insurance person, health insurance, life insurance, financial advisor, automobile salesperson, handyman, auto repair, Realtor, et cetera.

Number seven, in watching and working with widowed clients in the past, there are four things necessary for the survivor to feel OK and maybe even thrive following the event. Those are financial security, and you will have this-, good health-, that’s up to you, you need to work on it every day, many good relationships,  and you have many,  keep them vibrant, and most important, a sense of purpose. And that’s what I found in working with people, and thinking this through, and talking to lots of people about this.

So number eight, in regaining or remembering your sense of purpose, I would remind you of the joint purpose we shared while I was physically alive. Some of those things were, and A, B, C, D. So these kinds of things, I think, are important because what I’ve found working with widows or widowers, it’s always something they wish they had asked or they could ask their spouse some additional advice. And I know we do all this work on our estate-planning documents. We work with our advisers. We get everything, and sometimes both spouses are there. But I think adding this really, really helps the survivor get going better, and not get stuck, and get back on their feet a lot quicker.

So I really appreciate your attention in watching this. What you can do right now to start addressing this for you or make progress for yourself is maybe get a notebook or something that you’re only gonna write down what you think needs to be known or the ideas that you want to share with your spouse. And then whenever you think of something, write it in the notebook, and have that notebook or wherever you set aside, that this is for advice for my spouse if I’m gone. And I would ask you to get started on that today, because we just never know.

And if you ever have a question about this or want to talk about this further, be happy to talk to you anytime.

Thanks again.


The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.

This information is not intended to be a substitute for individualized legal advice. Please consult your legal advisor regarding your specific situation.

About Dave Shepherd, ChFC, CFP®

Dave is the founder of Shepherd Wealth & Retirement in Tucson, Arizona. Dave is a Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC) and Certified Financial Planner™ practitioner (CFP®). Have a financial question? Click Here to contact Dave Shepherd.

Investment advice offered through Shepherd Wealth Group, a Registered Investment Adviser doing business as Shepherd Wealth & Retirement.

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