Pete and Sue have been married for 48 years. Like most couples in their generation, Pete handled the finances and Sue handled the social calendar. Recently, Pete suffered a series of strokes and passed away after a few days in the ICU. Sue is now faced with handling their finances and probating Pete’s will. Sue knows they have a will, but she has no idea where it is kept and she is unsure if Pete had any life insurance policies. In addition to grief, Sue is experiencing a tremendous amount of stress and anxiety about finances.
I am sure this case sounds familiar to you. Most of us have an aunt or a friend that faced this situation unexpectedly. Hearing stories like these inspire us to talk to our spouses, siblings, and parents about their finances and end-of-life wishes. Unfortunately, that inspiration usually leads to well-meaning thoughts and plans, but rarely to action.
What are the barriers to discussing our financial and personal information with others? Here are a few speculations: