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The Gift of Knowledge

It is approaching the New Year. The best gift you can give for the holidays and the New Year is the gift of knowledge of your personal information. 

I have all of my financial affairs in order.

That is fine but does anyone else know these facts other than you?  Does your spouse know of every bank you utilize and what type of accounts are in these banks? Do you know if there is a lockbox, and if so, do you know where the key is stored?  This may sound trivial but upon a serious illness or death it can be crucial that your spouse or child be in position to continue to keep the home front running.

My wife and I do everything together.

That is great but that is also the problem. If you and your spouse are both totally knowledgeable about the family business affairs you are a step ahead of most couples. But does anyone else know?  A tragedy could happen to both of you and you would be back to square one. Many times if something happens to one spouse, the other is just emotionally incapable of continuing everyday business.  It is imperative that at least one child is informed as to where your important documents are and what needs to be done. Here is a partial list of oblivious items of importance that may now be overlooked:

• Income tax estimate forms and a list of what has been paid and what and where to make payments.
• Lock box keys. 
• Keys to the shed, summer home, the old car out back, the boat, your jewelry box and the old truck in the basement. 
• Files storing information about supplemental medical insurance, company pension, life insurance, IRA’S, 401K’s and any other bank accounts. 
• A full list of fixed monthly payments. This may include health insurance premiums, utilities, mortgage payments, magazine subscriptions, or any other payment that is important to you and is made monthly, quarterly or annually. 
• Car titles, deeds and other important papers showing ownership of your assets. 
• Will, trust and all medical powers of attorney and living will. (That is assuming you have those documents completed, which a subject that I bring up every several months).

For the New Year, give your spouse and children the gift of knowledge of your affairs. They do not need to know each dollar but they do need to know where those dollars are and how to access them in time of an emergency. For your children, you should give at least one of them the written power to secure these records and utilize the funds for your care.  

If you are single, the problem is even greater. You must find someone in which to confide and make aware of your business. If you do not, the court will become involved and attorneys will love you.  Today, a person may think that he or she needs no one but the day will come when the help of a person you know would be far better than the cold hand of the probate court or the loss of insurance or other benefits. You owe it to yourself and your family to have your house in order.

Happy New Year.

Jeff Roth is a partner with David Bacon and associate Jessica Moon of the firm ROTH and BACON with offices in Port Clinton, Upper Sandusky, Marion, Ohio and Fort Myers, Florida.  All members of the firm are licensed in Ohio and Florida.  Mr. Roth’s practice is limited to wealth strategy planning and elder law in both states.  Nothing in this article is intended for, nor should be relied upon as individual legal advice. The purpose of this article is to provide information to the public on concepts of law as they pertain to estate and business planning. Jeff Roth can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (telephone: 419-732-9994) copyright Jeffrey P. Roth 2013.

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