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Dear Amy: We are “Pat” and “Leslie.”
We were both retired when we married two years ago, and we signed a prenuptial agreement that keeps our finances separate.
We each own a house outright and we spend half our time in each.
We agreed to share daily expenses and set up an account, which we equally fund and from which either of us can draw for those expenses.
We both have our own trust which controls our assets.
Our assets, though, are considerably different, though our incomes while working were roughly the same.
Part of Pat’s assets come from a sizable inheritance and Pat believes that those funds are family money and must be passed down the generations.
Leslie believes that this is wise family planning. Leslie has invested a significant amount in the education of the offspring. Pat agrees that this, also, is wise family planning.
We were discussing travel and a proposal was put forth that the expenses for travel should be divided proportional to assets.
A similar proposal was put forth for medical expenses, as one of us has significantly higher medical expenses.
We look to your sage advice as to whether these are good and fair proposals.
– Pat and Leslie
Dear Pat and Leslie: Please come to my house and sort out my life.
Your decisions and distribution of assets seem fair (to me), and if this works for you, then carry on!
Your financial blueprint for life appears both solid and responsible. But sometimes you need to colour outside of the lines, because life has a way of derailing even the most finely laid plans.
You are extremely good at deciding, distributing, and dividing.
My one suggestion for you to consider would be to find ways to share more.
A somewhat radical idea would be for you to consider taking advantage of the hot housing market, sell your two homes and look for a home together which will be suitable in design and location for you to age comfortably in place. Together.
You could use the profit from the sales to fund a joint account to be used for travel and medical expenses – as needed.
Dear Amy: The following happened three times this month to people I know!
Here’s the story: Somebody died with no will, and left their loved ones to deal with the aftermath.
My friends are having trouble getting into bank accounts to pay funeral expenses, getting into apartments to clear out belongings, dealing with funeral homes, getting access to email accounts so they can notify the near and dear of the sudden departure, and trouble tracking down veterans’ benefits and mortgages and leases and insurance policies.
Squabbling over the heirlooms will happen next. Meanwhile, there are disputes about who shall serve as executors.
It would have been so simple for these now-departed souls to make some arrangements before the inevitable day arrived.
Passwords, bank details, powers of attorney, car titles and all other legal documents – these may be kept discreetly hidden, with an “in case of emergency” note prominently featured someplace in the home.
Copies of all the items in your wallet, such as licenses and credit cards (front and back) should be in there, too.
Banks are quick to freeze accounts. Thawing them can be difficult without the right paperwork.
Please use your platform to explain in your inimitable way that nobody gets out of here alive, and it is a kindness to formally make one’s wishes known and one’s arrangements transparent – instead of burdening those who love you with cleaning up your affairs while they grieve.
Dear Worried: “Nobody gets out of here alive.” That’s as inimitable as it gets.
Thank you so very much for this important admonition. I hope your message reaches a lot of people, inspiring them to take these steps for the sake of those they will leave behind.
Dear Amy: I had to respond to the letter from “Fed Up,” who had endured 10 Thanksgivings with bickering sibling in-laws.
I had the best Thanksgiving ever last year.
After a horrendous Easter with so many changes and unnecessary demands I said no more, at least for a while.
I booked a flight and hotel and left town for Thanksgiving. I decided that a turkey sandwich alone was better than another mess. It was the best decision.
As a result, Christmas was wonderful. Sometimes you can solve a problem by not being a part of it.
– C. in Chicago
Dear C: Taking a breather can be good for everyone.