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In Your 50s? Talk About Your Plans

NEW BERLIN, Ill. (TheStreet) -- There are bound to be significant portions of your financial plans that affect others -- your spouse, children, favorite charities, for instance. While it's important that you have your plans in writing, it's also important to talk over your plans with those that can be affected by them. This is especially true for concepts such as stretch IRAs and future intents for charities, since these plans will be carried out after you're gone.

Quite often when I start working with a couple nearing retirement, I notice that one of the spouses is much more involved with the finances and the other is often either blissfully unaware or only minimally aware of "how things are going." With only a minimal understanding of financial plans, how can a spouse be expected to understand why investments have been made the way you have, why there are separate IRA accounts or which account is best to draw income from at what point in time?

Financial plans should not be made in a vacuum. You owe it to your future beneficiaries to discuss yours.

Whether or not you work with a financial adviser, it's important to make sure your family (especially your spouse) understands the plans you've laid out. Spending time going over your plans, at least at a high level, can help clarify what you're thinking and help those affected by your plans to understand your thought processes. Who knows, they may also have some ideas that could lead you to change the overall financial plan you're developing.

Make sure the plans include a way to access the accounts -- where everything is located, passwords, adviser contact information and the like. If you need a format to gather this information into one place, there are forms available here to help you with the process of organizing all of your financial "stuff."

You're making some of these plans for your spouse and family for when you're gone. You owe it to those beneficiaries to discuss with them your plans -- retirement accounts, investment strategies, insurance plans, etc. -- since they'll be most affected by them. Very simply, plans should not be made in a vacuum.

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This commentary comes from an independent investor or market observer as part of TheStreet guest contributor program. The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of TheStreet or its management.

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