How to save a lot of aggravation, heartache (plus some bucks)
Only rarely do both members of a senior couple die together.
For many couples of our vintage, the man was the breadwinner and the wife was not employed for pay. And frequently the man is the one who becomes suddenly incapacitated, or dies, first.
While many of the spouses ran the family money, so were familiar with financial issues, there were many who did not.
And were not familiar with such issues.
During 20 years as a mainline Protestant clergyperson and 20 years as a personal financial advisor (selling no financial products, by the way, through almost all of that time), I have found a number of situations where one spouse, who did not get much involved with issues related to management of issues involving the family operation, including the family money, was left, on the serious illness or death of the manager-spouse, pretty well at sea with regard to how to run things.
Many scarcely know how to write a cheque - or pay bills by phone, online, etc. (or even know which ones to pay). Or even how to drive a car.
When one suffers a serious illness, in which case sometimes the one that is struck down still is able to offer guidance, or death, when even such assistence is no longer available, it is hugely disruptive to the management of the family's affairs.
Let alone the emotional trauma that is involved relative to the sudden onset of serious illness or death.
So, if your family is one in which one spouse was only minimally involved in the operation of the family's system - please, please - have the non-involved spouse brought at least partly up to speed on how the family operates from day to day, week to week and month to month.
How the family money is managed, etc.
Could save a huge amount of emotional turmoil, later.
And avoid some potentially substantial losses regarding the family's assets, as well.
Right now, a retired C.A. who's a member of an investment group that I attend, has a wife who has very little involvement and not much interest in several of those issus - which troubles him substantially.
Just a word of advice to folks that are, probably in many areas, wise as it is.