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Does My Spouse Know Whom to Talk to When I’m Gone?

When Steve died, the family was shocked in more ways than one. His untimely death from heart attack just wasn’t in the cards. But his youngest son was surprised to find out that he was the trustee and placed in the unenviable position of dictating his father’s wishes to his older siblings.

Worse still, his mother was unschooled in financial matters and had begged out of meetings with Steve’s financial advisors. She didn’t even know who the complete team was. The son found himself heading to his dad’s office to speak to his dad’s secretary to piece together the complete team.

Once he got them all together, he learned that they all had different pieces of the puzzle but they’d never met together as a team. Because Steve’s wife held signature authority for many items, she found herself dragged into long meetings where she felt like everyone else was speaking a foreign language.

Her son did his best to interpret, but he felt pressured by his siblings to maintain an objective distance, even as trustee. It was a mess.

Simple solution: The rearview mirror tends to produce clarity for everyone. Steve could have gotten his advisory team together to work with one another. That advisory team could have collectively decided the meetings that Steve’s wife must ultimately be involved in, as well as helping put together a glossary of terms to produce greater understanding. Steve could have also established a point person from the team to lead the efforts and the communication with his wife.

And of course, the decision to involve his son as trustee should have been disclosed not only to the son but to the other siblings as well. That decision should have been backed by the appropriate rationale.

Where do you stand with communicating with your spouse about the important advisors in your life?

Related articles:
Pitfalls of Passing Stuff to Children
Increased Longevity and the Impact on Family Business Succession
Will Your Advisors Outlive You?

About Bill High

Bill is CEO of the Signatry: A Global Christian Foundation. He works with families, individual givers, and financial advisers to share the foundation’s message regarding biblical generosity and charitable giving. » Learn More. He is the co-author with David Green of Giving It All Away and Getting It All Back Again: The Way of Living Generously.

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