Managing Your Family’s Financial Affairs When You Are Not Able

Paul FennerPersonal Finance

Someone recently asked a question who will be able to help my family manage our financial affairs when I am no longer able?  This was a person who took the sole responsibility for managing his family’s financial affairs and was able to build not only a sizeable investment portfolio but also a retirement plan that allowed both he and his wife to potentially thrive during their retirement years.

Managing Risk

When I first sit down to speak with prospective or current clients, they generally hear me talk about risk management and not investment management for a good portion of the initial conversation.  Usually, risk management is what people don’t understand and if they do understand it, it is not a topic that they feel very comfortable talking about.

Even though it’s known that we will eventually pass on, death is not a topic that people like to talk about, and who could blame anyone for that.  However, when it comes to being able to see your final wishes through to completion, protecting your family from a catastrophic financial event, or ensuring that your children are properly taken care of in your absence, wouldn’t you want to have a plan and somewhere there directing that plan on your behalf?

Strategic Empathy

In this age of social media where it’s easier than ever to care or be outraged about something new every couple of days, people ought to give credence to what matters most to them and thus what they should care or focus their attention on.  This notion that I am referring to is what Josh Kaufman, author of the book The Personal MBA: Master the Art of Business calls strategic apathy, “making a conscious, deliberate choice to not care about the forms of status that don’t lead us toward the fulfillment of our current priorities or long-term goals.”

Make A Conscious Decision

So how do you make strategic apathy apart of your financial life?  This directly relates back to having a plan whether it is for your estate, insurance, or emergency planning needs.  All of these pieces are what I consider to be a part of the risk management phase of having a complete wealth management plan.  You spend the time in the area that you care the most about.  So you make a conscious decision to sit down with someone to:

  • Help draft the necessary estate documents that help dictate who would take care of your family should something happen to you;
  • Understanding how much protection you need from a financial standpoint to take care of liabilities and goals again if something should happen to you;
  • Or knowing how much you need in a liquid account to cover 3 to 6 months of living expenses.

The person that I reference earlier who asked who will help me if I am no longer able was strictly focused on only one aspect of his wealth management plan, the asset management piece, and not the risk element.  He made sure that he was saving enough, controlling his family’s expenses, and working with someone who could help with individual investments and asset allocation decisions.  However, this gentleman left out one crucial piece, who would carry on after he was gone.

Don’t overlook the critical pieces of life that you need or should care about most, only to become distracted by the current social media events of the day.