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Personal Finance

Thinking About the Unthinkable

2019-11-19

By Bob Landry, CFA, CFP®

Senior Relationship Manager

In a publication for financial planners that I regularly read, I learned of the tragic death of Jud Bergman, 62, and his wife Mary Miller-Bergman, 57.  Both were passengers in a San Francisco taxi that was struck head-on by a drunk driver and died instantly.  

Jud was the founder and CEO of Envestnet, a company that provides a variety of software applications and services for financial advisors and investment managers.  I met Jud briefly at an industry conference several years ago. He was considered a visionary and innovator in the field of financial technology.

The Bergmans did not have minor children when they passed.  But the event made me think about the consequences of young parents not contemplating the possibility of dying simultaneously.

It is an important reason why a well thought out estate plan is so essential.  For example, have you considered the following?

  • Who would care for your children? Failing to name a guardian could mean the state would make that decision.

  • What resources would be made available to the guardian?

  • How will your assets be transferred to the children?

  • Do you have contingent beneficiaries named for your life insurance policies, retirement accounts, and other financial assets?

  • Who would administer the estate?

  • If you have pets, who would care for them?

  • Are you caring for elderly parents? Who would take over this responsibility?

You should be aware of several important documents:

  • A will to establish guardianship for your minor children, name an executor, direct where to distribute certain assets, and what final arrangements you would prefer.

  • A guardianship document if you are not prepared to complete a will.

  • A revocable living trust to help your children receive your assets faster by avoiding probate, a legal process administered by state courts. The trust should include instructions on creating separate trusts for the children to receive proceeds from life insurance and other financial assets.

As unpleasant as death is to think about, making a concerted effort to build an estate plan that reflects your priorities, goals, and values is one of the most important legacies you can provide to your loved ones.

Every state has specific laws dealing with these issues, so be sure to consult with an estate planning attorney. An AAFMAA Wealth Management & Trust Relationship Manager can help provide guidance by connecting you with vetted attorneys in the area. 

It is possible to prepare for the worst of times while also saving for the best. If the unthinkable still has you unsure of your future finances, schedule a meeting with me on Calendly today. You spent a lifetime building your legacy. We can help you preserve it for generations to come.