Two years after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, my father passed away. He left his daughters a houseful of memorabilia and his investment accounts.
Along with the emotional turmoil, I was faced with the task of processing the estate. I learned a few valuable lessons that I hope you can use to organize your own finances to make it easier for your heirs (in 120 years…).
Lesson learned: Consolidate your investments. This way, not only do you have greater control over your finances, but your heirs will have everything under one ceiling, making it easier and quicker for them to receive funds.
As a beneficiary, I spent hours dealing with multiple companies and their different paperwork requirements. Further complicating things was the fact that some companies would only mail checks to my overseas address (as opposed to a direct deposit to an American account), and others didn’t have procedures developed for people living outside of the U.S., (one company insisted I sign documents solely meant for NY residents).
Lesson learned: Having extra cash on hand helps. My father fiercely valued his independence and refused all efforts to help him with finances. He finally agreed to let one of the daughters have joint control of his checking account. This was extremely helpful towards the end of his life and immediately afterwards.
Lesson learned: Choose your professionals carefully. Choose someone who is familiar with your particular situation and can offer the products that best suit your needs. Don’t passively inherit the broker/agent who historically watched the accounts.
My parents used an insurance agent as their financial advisor, even though he was limited in the types of products and services he could offer them. He volunteered to become my agent too, but I declined because he lacked expertise in understanding cross-border clients like me.
Profile Investment Services, Ltd. just published a book on receiving an inheritance from overseas. Download the guide and hopefully it will minimize your tears and turmoil, and make receiving an inheritance a smoother process.
May my father’s memory be for a blessing.
Douglas Goldstein, CFP®, is the Director of Profile Investment Service, Ltd., which specializes in helping people who live in Israel with their US dollar assets and American investment and retirement accounts. He helps olim meet their financial goals through asset allocation, financial planning, and using money managers.
Published September 14, 2018.