My name is Mark Goodfield. Welcome to The Blunt Bean Counter ™, a blog that shares my thoughts on income taxes, finance and the psychology of money. I am a Chartered Professional Accountant. This blog is meant for everyone, but in particular for high net worth individuals and owners of private corporations. My posts are blunt, opinionated and even have a twist of humour/sarcasm. You've been warned. Please note the blog posts are time sensitive and subject to changes in legislation or law.

Monday, September 19, 2022

Documenting and Explaining Your Estate to your Spouse

I hope everyone had a safe and enjoyable summer. Mine was pretty good except for the 5mm kidney stone that decided to come on down in mid-July and took 12 days to finally pass ☹. But as they say, all things shall pass and once the stone did, I had an enjoyable time catching up with family, friends and golf and learning a few new barbeque recipes courtesy of YouTube.

Over the years, I have posted numerous times about “Stress Testing your Finances” and recommended that you document and review your estate with your spouse (and possibly executors). I emphasized in these blog posts that you do not want to pass away without leaving your spouse a listing of your financial assets and a roadmap of how to deal with estate matters. When your healthy and of sound mind, you need to assist and prepare your spouse to deal with and navigate your estate, by clarifying and discussing various financial issues and making introductions to your advisors, amongst other estate matters. To be clear, each spouse should have a reciprocal exchange.

I do not want to regurgitate my prior blog posts, so at the bottom of this post, I will link three of the more pertinent posts I have written should you wish to read or re-read them again. Today, I will talk about explaining the details of your estate to your spouse and future steps they may need to settle your estate.

Since 2012 when I first wrote on this topic, I have taken my own advice and provided my wife with a summary document I update as necessary with various financial information, passwords and anything else I think would help her settle my estate with the least amount of stress. This document is kept in our safety deposit box. I know other people keep it in the cloud, where they have a secure personal locker. Where you keep the document does not matter, the key is competing the document.

I think our household is representative of some if not many Canadian households, where most financial matters are generally taken care of by the “financial oriented” spouse (as opposed to sharing the financial duties), especially where the other spouse does not work in a financial oriented capacity. In these households, financial communication can sometimes be lacking.

This year, based on various questions my wife has asked me, from how certain payments would continue if I passed away, to what happens to travel points, to whom would prepare her taxes etc. I realized I am one of those “financial spouses” who has not sufficiently explained what my estate summary means to my wife in practical terms beyond the documentation I have provided.

Given my experience with my wife, I decided to delve into greater detail (there will be tons of detail) in my next post the first week of October, on the “explaining” and “future steps” required to settle your estate. Until then, here are the prior links on this topic I noted earlier:

The Blunt Bean Counter: Stress Testing Your Finances and Your Death - The Comprehensive Test

The Blunt Bean Counter: Just Do It – Write Your Financial Story! What the Heck are You Waiting For?
Here is also a link to an Estate Organizer (note the document cannot be amended)

This site provides general information on various tax issues and other matters. The information is not intended to constitute professional advice and may not be appropriate for a specific individual or fact situation. It is written by the author solely in their personal capacity and cannot be attributed to the accounting firm with which they are affiliated. It is not intended to constitute professional advice, and neither the author nor the firm with which the author is associated shall accept any liability in respect of any reliance on the information contained herein. Readers should always consult with their professional advisors in respect of their particular situation. Please note the blog post is time sensitive and subject to changes in legislation or law.

1 comment:

  1. The passing on of passwords can be greatly simplified by using smart password management. One approach is:

    1. Use Google's password manager to store all your passwords. When creating a new account, Google also gives the option of using a highly-secure password and storing this for you, another benefit.
    2. Make each spouse the "recovery email", for the google account -
    3. Then if something happens, then you can recover the deceased person's password to the surviving spouse and the surviving spouse can log in to the deceased person's google account and have access to all of the deceased person's passwords.

    This is a simply way of doing things that allows passwords to be changed any time without having to document the passwords and also provides access to accounts (maybe you need an IKEA receipt) that may not be though of.