Congregation Etz Chaim of DuPage County

What Your Family Should Know Recap- September 14, 2014

Tue, 09/16/2014 - 4:08pm -- Lifelong Learning

Presented by Mel Marmer

Sponsored by the Lifelong Learning Committee

On Sunday, September 14, retired tax attorney Mel Marmer delineated important information regarding financial and estate planning arrangements that should be shared between spouses, between partners and between any single adult with a trusted family member or friend.  With some humor and a great deal of clarity, Mel discussed several key points on a handout that he disseminated, and which is reproduced here.


Spousal Preparedness Guidelines for Financial and Estate Planning Arrangements

  1. Accept the basic fact that no one knows which spouse will be the first to die or WHEN such death will occur.
  2. Your goal MUST be for both spouses to be fully informed as to all financial and estate planning arrangements, including being comfortable with your family attorney, CPA and investment adviser.
  3. A current summary of financial and estate planning arrangements should be reviewed at least EVERY two years.
  4. BOTH spouses should actively participate in the decision making process to create and revise financial, estate planning and investment decisions. Each spouse MUST also have an informed understanding of the three basic principles of investing: asset allocation, diversification and investment risk.
  5. With respect to tax return preparation, both spouses must be INFORMED as to the sources of all entries on the tax returns, including checkbooks, and Forms 1099 and W-2.
  6. Both spouses should know the SPECIFIC location of all current and prior years financial records, including tax returns, checkbooks, titles to cars and the residence, paid invoices and the ORIGINAL of estate planning documents for both spouses.
  7. All password and user name information for data stored in home computers MUST be written down in a legible format and placed in a location known to BOTH spouses (or to the designated representative of a single adult), along with a separate list of home repair and service providers.
  8. With respect to options available to the distribution of retirement accounts, upon the death of the first spouse, the surviving spouse or any beneficiary (PRIOR to the distribution of the deceased spouse’s retirement benefits) should consult with an attorney or CPA who has EXPERTISE with this complex subject matter.
  9. If financially practical, the distribution of Social Security benefits and from IRAs and other retirement accounts should be DEFERRED until each spouse attains age 70. Also, paying off your residential mortgage will simplify cash flow planning. Such actions will likely enable both spouses to avoid having adult children provide financial support for either or both spouses.
  10. Each couple should accumulate sufficient retirement benefits for the joint lives of BOTH spouses, assuming that at least one spouse will live to at least age 90. Each couple, beginning about 8 to 10 years prior to the retirement of the first working spouse to retire, should have CANDID discussions to create their basic retirement plan, including detailed funeral arrangements for EACH SPOUSE, where we want to live, and post retirement daily living goals and activities.