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Death and How to Plan for the Inevitable - Transcript

By Motley Fool Wealth Management

Alison Southwick: This is Motley Fool Answers. I'm Alison Southwick and I'm joined, as always, by Roberto Brokampo...

Robert Brokamp: Greetings! Con mucho gusto! Los músculos más grandes!

Southwick: What does that mean?

Brokamp: That I have big muscles.

Southwick: Oh!

Brokamp: Not really.

Southwick: All right. This episode is our final in the series on major life events, and I mean really final. Motley Fool Wealth planners Megan Brinsfield and Sean Gates join us to talk about planning for death. All that and more on this week's episode of Motley Fool Answers.


Southwick: So, Bro, what's up?

Brokamp: Well, Alison, guess what? I have three things for you.

Southwick: Yes!

Brokamp: All right. Number one, party like it's 1938! So you may remember from our May 7 episode I said, "Party like it's 1987," because the performance of the S&P 500 from January to April was the best since 1987. But then came May, which was the pooper at the party. The S&P 500 was down 6.5%.

But then June came...

Southwick: Oh!

Brokamp: ...and said, "Let's get this party restarted."

Southwick: And tell me. How did Michael rate for popularity in 1954?

Brokamp: What's that from?

Southwick: Don't you remember when Dayana was on the show and she just talked for like an hour on how different names ranked? And then she was like, "And then in 1942 Suzie jumped three places..."

Brokamp: In 1358 Ezekiel made a comeback. Uh, no.

Southwick: And we were just laughing. I was just crying I was laughing so hard and she just kept going.

Brokamp: Yes.

Southwick: She kept going.

Brokamp: I remember.

Southwick: [Sighs]

Brokamp: Anyways! So this past June...

Southwick: All right, I'll keep quiet.

Brokamp: ...the S&P 500 returned 6.9%. It was the best June since 1955. The Dow returned 7.2%, the best June for the Dow since 1938. Pretty amazing. June also means that we have reached the midpoint of the year, so halfway through the S&P 500 returned 18.4%, the best first six months since 1997.

But it's not just the S&P 500. Small caps, midcaps, international stocks. Bonds were up 6.1%. This is only the tenth time since 1980 that both stocks and bonds were up more than 5% in the first half of the year. Oil is up 25%. Gold is at a six-year high. It led one Reuters writer to say that this is the best first half for financial markets ever. It's just been an extraordinarily good year...

Southwick: But...?

Brokamp: ...to be any kind of...

Southwick: Where's my awfulizer, here?

Brokamp: Not a whole lot of awfulizing. That's it. Just a good year to be an investor.

Southwick: Whoa!

Brokamp: In fact, there's even more good news, which leads me to number two. And that is the longest expansion ever! So this month marks the 121st month of the current recovery, which began in June of 2009. That surpasses the 120-month expansion that happened from the 1990s and ended with the dot-com crash. This makes it the longest economic expansion on record, the record starting in 1854.

That said, its strength is not matched by its length. So in terms of how much it's grown (GDP has grown about 24% or so), less than half of the expansion of the 1990s. And the strongest expansion happened in the 1960s, where the GDP grew over 50%. So still very impressive, though, that it's gone on as long as it has.

That said, there are some concerns that it's petering out a little bit, which is why the Fed has hinted that it may actually cut rates. That said, the bond market is not waiting. Interest rates have been going down. At some point earlier in July the 10-year Treasury fell below 2% for the first time since 2016. The drop in interest rates is part of what has fueled the surge in the stock market as well as the bond market because when rates go down, bonds go up.

So generally in the short term it's good. The only thing that is not so good about that is that we're already starting to see the yields on savings accounts go down. Goldman Sachs with its Marcus account -- Allied Bank has already started lowering the rates on their cash accounts -- so you may want to lock in some of these "higher rates" (still not very high) by getting a one-year or two-year CD, because I do expect the rates in savings accounts to go down. That's number two.

Number three is a totally different topic. Battling loneliness with benches in Britain. Social isolation is actually a significant health issue. According to AARP it can have the same impact as smoking 15 cigarettes a day...

Southwick: Ooh!

Brokamp: ...because it can lead to more heart disease. Higher blood pressure. Even dementia. The American Psychological Association says that up to 40% of Americans over the age of 45 suffer from chronic loneliness...

Southwick: Oh!

Brokamp: I know, isn't that sad? But people of any age can feel lonely. So the jolly folks in the United Kingdom have decided to combat this by naming a minister for loneliness, something we mentioned about a year ago on the show. But there's even a more recent initiative that they're writing about in England; that is, the establishment of chat benches. Basically putting benches in parks with a sign that says something along the lines of, "The happy-to-chat bench. Sit here if you don't mind someone stopping by to say hello."

Southwick: Thank you.

Brokamp: According to an article on MentalFloss.com, for people who feel isolated in their daily lives, the benches are an opportunity to make a connection with someone new, and they also give people who want to help the lonely members of their community a way to do so. One of the towns in England that's doing this is called Burnham-On-Sea.

The Burnham-On-Sea police community support officer Tracey Grobbeler said it scientifically helps break down the invisible social barriers that exists between strangers who find themselves sharing a common place. Simply stopping by to say hello to someone at the chat bench can make a huge difference to the vulnerable people in our communities and help them make their lives a little bit better.

So reading this article led me to another MentalFloss.com article about the increased number of multigenerational playgrounds, or even playgrounds geared towards older folks with ellipticals and stationary bikes. The same sort of intention; partially it's exercise but partially it's to get people out and get social, which I just love because hopefully, soon in the future, I won't be the only person over 12 years old swinging on swings because I love swings.

Southwick: I can't do it anymore. I get nauseous.

Brokamp: Oh, I love it. I love jumping off swings. I love doing backflips off swings. Love it. Anyways...

Southwick: You're 50. Remember that?

Brokamp: Shh! Don't tell anyone. And that, Alison, is what's up.

Southwick: Your swinging days are almost over.

Brokamp: [Laughs]


Southwick: Well, this is it; the last in our series on major financial events and how to tackle them with the help of Motley Fool's Wealth Management planners.

Brokamp: A sister company of The Motley Fool.

Southwick: There we go. And so today we have Megan Brinsfield and Sean Gates and you guys are going to talk to us about death.

Megan Brinsfield: Yes.

Southwick: Yes.

Brokamp: There's not much else to say about it.

Sean Gates: It's time.

Southwick: Well, it's time to talk about it. And not only about how to prepare for it yourself, but how to help those around you and a little bit about how to prep... I don't know. It's just all so much, and tough, and emotional, and financial all at the same time. Let's just get into it, shall we?

Brinsfield: Yes.

Brokamp: Let's do that.

Southwick: First we're going to talk about yourself and how to prepare yourself for death and it's all about those financial documents, isn't that right, Megan?

Brinsfield: Absolutely. We talk to people quite frequently about just having this area buttoned up, and it's one of those things people put off forever, because they don't want to think about their own death. I mean, imagine that. But it's something that's so important. Figuring out for the people left behind what you want to have happen to all these assets because if you think about not doing that, what's the alternative? You're just like, "I'm leaving. I'm dead. I'm not going to care anymore."

But the people left behind then have to deal with two big burdens. One is the fact that you're not there and the second is they don't know what you wanted to happen to all these things. So the big three documents are having a will, a medical directive, and a power of attorney. And then if you have particular feelings about being resuscitated, having a DNR on file is really helpful. We can get into specifics. I don't know if Sean has [something to add].

Gates: I just want to jump in with a story from a client. It's not exactly related to the will and the medical directive, but this was more trust work, which is another set of documents that you could have in place to distribute your assets and there's some other benefits. But mostly distribute assets.

In this case, I think it's relevant to know that at least from my experience, death seems to happen quicker than most people expect, so I think when you get at death's door you might think that it's a slower process because you want to fight it. You want to be optimistic about what's happening. I had a client who was diagnosed with cancer and the prospects on the initial treatment looked good so we delayed implementing some things. She was in the process of getting remarried...

Southwick: Oh, wow.

Gates: All of these things kept getting pushed back. She passed away suddenly and the documents weren't quite in the way that we had hoped. Now, luckily we were able to adjust some of the beneficiary information on her more named accounts, but the trust documents weren't quite there and the amount of effort that we had to go through to actually get the assets distributed in the way that she wanted was tremendous.

Normally, in a trust document, you have to name successor trustees and in order to get a successor trustee named, you have to notify every beneficiary of your trust document, and in some cases that could be a hundred people. It could be several charities and getting ahold of the charities is very difficult. It's just a huge process and something I wanted to alert people to so that they're paying attention to it.

Brinsfield: One of the reasons that I am here talking about death is because of a personal experience. My dad died last year. He did have a DNR in place and about a year and a half before he actually passed away he had a real scare. The DNR he had on file was a copy, not the original, and so they didn't honor it.

Then we went down to the next path. He's in the hospital with resuscitation procedures and the medical directive is in a lawyer's office somewhere. So I am supposed to be the person making decisions and the person that's actually being called is my brother who hasn't been in the picture for a while.

Those types of things sound really easy -- I'm going to do this document and I'm going to put it in a safe somewhere -- but it's important to have it actually accessible by the people that need it very quickly.

Southwick: It's crazy. What do you mean by the actual document? Did it have to be notarized? Did they have to hold it up to the light to tell if it was actual ink?

Brinsfield: Yes, this was really surprising to me. [When the EMTs came to take my dad to the hospital] they checked. Is there a DNR on file? I don't know what they did to say this is a copy and this isn't the original. When you're in a nursing facility you have these big binders full of paperwork and it's up to the person that's on call at the time to flip through and find the right thing.

A lot of people don't even have these basic documents, but when you do, make sure you're checking on them periodically, especially if you're handing them off to another party that's going to be responsible at the point that they're needed.

Southwick: Let's move on to beneficiaries.

Brinsfield: So inspired by this event, somewhat, I personally did a beneficiary review of my accounts, and one of the things I think a lot of people forget is your beneficiary designations are going to trump anything that you have in your will. That's true mainly for retirement accounts but could also be true for annuities and really anything where you're naming a beneficiary. That is going to be what happens.

And then for taxable accounts, you can actually set up beneficiaries through titling. So if you have a joint account with right of survivorship, that is a title that prevents you from going through probate and accelerates the passage of that asset to the other named party on the account. There's also what's called a transfer on death or pay on death designation that you can go through for taxable brokerage accounts. Doing that can really expedite passing assets after your death.

Southwick: Something that's been in the news a lot lately is social media accounts -- what you do when someone you care about has passed away and their social media accounts live on.

Brinsfield: Yes, this is such a big issue and it's one of those things where the companies, themselves, are in a bind because they can't violate your privacy rules and say, "Oh, so and so has passed away. Here's their whole email history." Now with what's being done you see a little bit more intention around companies. Facebook, in particular, has this memorial account that you can set up. You're not supposed to log into someone else's account without them there, so you can't actually gain access to your relative's Facebook account after they pass away. You can only set up this memorial account and be an admin of it.

Gmail -- they're not just giving access. You can set these rules that say, "If I'm inactive a certain period of time, assume I'm gone."

Southwick: Wow!

Brinsfield: And it will notify someone that you set up as a trusted contact. Even then, you have to be pretty explicit about what you want them to be able to access.

Southwick: So once you get some forms in place and these things, I imagine you should talk a lot to people about what you want.

Brinsfield: Yes, just throw a party.

Southwick: Can you do that?

Gates: [Laughs]

Brokamp: [Laughs]

Brinsfield: I actually don't think that's a bad idea.

Southwick: Get everyone on the same page. Have some snacks. A few drinks. Everything will go down better.

Gates: A surprise party.

Brinsfield: In all of this we've talked about what you want to happen to your assets and things, but we haven't really talked about what you want to happen to your physical body and there are more options than you might think. A lot of people think they need to be buried or cremated and [the options end there].

One option that I was made aware of is body donation, or body bequeathal. If you want to donate your body to science, register with a university that has a medical school and they will accept your body and use it for scientific purposes. Then depending on the school, they can send you the cremains after they've completed the research. But the purpose is that you're helping medical students learn more intricately about the body and it could lead to scientific advances.

One interesting thing. Both of my parents wanted to donate their bodies to science because they don't care about their physical form, I guess. They were not aware that you have to register ahead of time. You have to have a program to accept it.

And in most cases, if you are registering with a program that's local, there's no cost to the family to use this program. In my dad's case, he had to register for a program that was across the state line, so you have to pay for transportation. But it's still relatively cost-effective compared to even cremation. So for people who are financially limited in terms of the choices that they have, that could be an option.

Another consideration is that you cannot be both an organ donor and donate your body to science. That can cause some discussion, for sure.

Gates: I would just add that in talking about your final plans -- I know we get to this a little bit later in the discussion -- but talking with more than just your family is super relevant, especially about how gracefully you want to exit and what you might want to do to preserve [your body].

Some of my clients are not ready to go and so they will take extreme measures and this could be a financial burden. For example, if you get cancer or some odd medical diagnosis, perhaps you sign up for an experimental trial and it takes place in Mexico. You have to travel to Mexico. Medical tourism is becoming a very large thing. But most of those treatments are not covered by traditional insurance, so it puts a fairly significant strain on what already is, potentially, a depleting asset base.

Those are just knock-on effects of these conversations, because you might have talked with your family about what your financial situation looks like, but then it changes dramatically in the last three months. You should just make sure you're keeping everyone up to date about what you're willing to go through and what you want to accomplish in the last moments.

Brokamp: In case you are the type of person who hasn't done all this yet, and you need some other motivation, it really is a gift to your family to do a lot of this and to have these discussions. You want to have the discussions because if there's any disagreement about either who gets what, or how your remains will be handled, you want that all worked out now.

Something I've personally seen is a lot of disagreement and a lot of issues after someone dies. Fights among the family members that go on for years that could have been resolved while the person was alive. "This is what I want to happen and this is why. If you don't like it let's work that out now and it's all taken care of now."

Gates: Yes, I'm dealing with that personally, now. My dad is not that old, but he wants me to be the executor just because I'm a little bit more financially savvy. He has a particular set of distribution rules that he has in place and he talks to me about it, but he doesn't talk to the other beneficiaries about it. I'm like, "We should probably talk to them about it." He doesn't want to, so I have to basically break his trust and go talk to them directly because it's going to cause problems in the end if we don't. Having those conversations pre-emptively is important.

Southwick: So for those who don't have a son that they can rely on that's a professional, when do you call in a professional?

Gates: I'm up for adoption. Forget that.

Southwick: Aw!

Brinsfield: We hear from a lot of potential clients about the fact that they feel really comfortable managing their affairs while they're alive but worry about how their spouse might handle inheriting all these assets that maybe they haven't been involved with [in terms of management] Might not know what to do with. That's really the point where we get involved ahead of time.

Someone might think way ahead of time and say, "Well, my dad died when he was 75 and I'm 70 now, so maybe I should get someone involved." And particularly -- I think Sean has been in this situation -- where people call because they've had a diagnosis.

Gates: For sure.

Brinsfield: It can be that extreme if you have a tight handle on your own finances; but, in a lot of cases it's just helpful to have an objective third party, especially if you haven't had any of these conversations with your family. That's another time where we're brought in almost as a mediator for these conversations; not just between spouses, but between generations, as well.

Southwick: Let's shift and talk about what you can do if you are caring for someone who is in decline.

Brinsfield: I think this applies to more and more people. We even have a Slack channel, here at the Fool, for people who...

Southwick: I didn't know that.

Brinsfield: Yeah!

Brokamp: For our parents.

Brinsfield: Yes, for our parents. It's mainly aimed at the generations taking care of their aging parents, but there are also people that I know of in situations where they might have a sibling who is just not as able to take care of themselves and needs help. But if you're in the situation where you are going to be a caregiver, just keep in mind that that is not a small task. That's not like something you can do after work sometimes; particularly as someone is in their last stages of decline and might require that you're there almost around the clock.

Some important questions to consider from a financial perspective include what your workplace allows in terms of flexibility for being able to maybe relocate and work remotely or work part-time. Does your employer offer bereavement leave? That's ultimately at the end of life, but for that process where someone's really ill, can you take family medical leave?

That's something that is required by law -- that you have up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave and you can come back to your job. But 12 weeks of unpaid leave for a lot of people is really a non-starter. Going three months without receiving a paycheck and on top of that, the emotional burden of being a caretaker and being there full-time can really take a toll, and I don't think many people think through the consequences.

Obviously, if you get a call that a loved one is declining, most of the time you want to drop everything and be there. And thinking through what the financial ramifications of that would be is a prudent task.

Gates: I think it could be easy for people listening to this to be like, "Well, I'm not going to be a caregiver. Why do I care?" But you very easily could be a caregiver by default. A lot of people haven't put the plans in place and so if you're someone's son or daughter or brother or sister, you might be the only person willing to give the time. These rules should apply to everyone, because you could be a caregiver.

Brinsfield: I will say one of my friends just sent around her will. She wrote it herself. She wrote out a full program for her memorial service...

Southwick: Wow!

Brinsfield: And exactly as Robert mentioned, "This is my gift to you. I don't want you to have to worry about it if I pass on." In the same email, she nominated me as the executor of her estate and also as a proxy caregiver. Just an intermediary, as well. And it's not a surprise to me, but it may have been a surprise to other people in her family if she hadn't talked to them about it.

Southwick: Could you talk a little bit about what an executor has to do? How much of a burden is that?

Brokamp: It can be quite a lot of work.

Brinsfield: It can. And really it is, at the very highest level, tying up someone's affairs after they pass away and making sure that all of their assets get distributed per their documentation. So not necessarily per their wishes. If their wishes don't match the documentation, you have to go by the documentation, but it's a process that is very legal in nature, and it really depends on the amount of assets that someone has.

I guess technically I'm an executor for my dad, but there is really nothing to distribute, so that was a pretty easy process.

Brokamp: You still have to file a tax return, right?

Brinsfield: Tax returns are not necessarily required. The person, themselves, has to file...

Southwick: The dead person themselves...

Brinsfield: Yes, the dead person themselves...

Southwick: That sounds like something the IRS would make you do.

Brinsfield: ...has to file a final tax return if they had income that year, and then if your estate is above a certain level, then you would file an estate tax return. So if you have very low income from the estate, it's similar to a trust for tax-filing purposes. If the estate has income less than $350 you don't have to file a tax return. But the estate files a tax return while it's in the process of distributing all the assets.

Southwick: Oh, I hope no one ever asks me to be their executor. Like I wouldn't know what to do. I'd be like, "Sure, I'll be your executor." Then they're dead and I'm like, "Well, I don't know what to do. Do I have to call up their company? Do I have to work with all of their accounts? Do I have to call up their brokerage?"

Brokamp: Yes.

Southwick: And I have to file a tax return? Ugh!

Brinsfield: Yes, you've got to go through probate. My mom still hasn't probated her mom's property that out's in Kansas, because you have to go to probate court in Kansas.

Southwick: Ugh!

Gates: Yes.

Southwick: That sounds horrible. It's like if you own a truck all your friends ask you to help them move. And if you're the one financially savvy friend, everyone asks you to be their executor.

Brokamp: Yes. At this point we should say that any estate planning we think should be done by a qualified attorney. There are some situations where it's okay to go online and get the online will, but for the most part I recommend you get legal help. I would say that's probably the case for most people who are executors, especially if the estate has any assets. And to complicate it all, especially if there's property in multiple states. there are people that will help you go through this process. I know I'm the executor for at least two estates and I certainly plan on getting help if and when that time comes.

Southwick: Would you like to be the executor for our estate, too?

Brokamp: I would be honored.

Southwick: I'm not going to ask that.

Brokamp: I knew you wouldn't.

Gates: But it's tricky. Even finding an estate-planning attorney can be a fairly daunting task because there are trust mills out there. I'm not saying that that's common, but there's all these decision trees that you have to go through.

Another common thing that we deal with clients about -- in terms of the executor -- is you have to provide the death certificate and it can't be a copy in most cases. You have to get the original. You have to have 12 original copies to be able to provide to each institution. It's a huge pain.

Brokamp: Yes, it really is. And in most states, the executor can be paid from the estate and sometimes there's a situation where someone feels guilty doing that. You should not feel guilty, because you are working very hard to settle this estate.

Brinsfield: I think Sean also has a story about corporate trustees or corporate executors. It's a really hard business to be in. I've seen a ton of articles, recently, about big estates where the beneficiaries are actually suing the corporate executor because they feel like the estate was mismanaged. It took too long to distribute. It wasn't distributed properly. They charged too much for the services.

It can be really sticky and so if you don't have a financially savvy friend, you might just think you'll hire a company to do this, but companies really don't have a strong incentive to do it because it's so messy.

Gates: I had forgotten about that. In this case the client had an attorney that they worked with and I kept bothering them about meeting up with this attorney to get their documents in place. And they said, "Oh, no, don't worry about it. I have a corporate relationship in process." It was with Wells Fargo and it turns out when the eventuality came, we went to Wells Fargo and said, "Hey, what are you doing?" and their response was, "We're not doing anything."

When we asked why, the response was, "The estate of this client isn't over $2.5 million, and we don't work with clients who don't have $2.5 million."

Brokamp: Wow!

Gates: And that was it. They just shut the door. So it's a pretty cold world.

Southwick: Where do you recommend people go for more advice and guidance?

Brinsfield: One of the great resources which hasn't been mentioned, yet, is a letter from Rule Your Retirement days. I think Robert should jump in on that.

Brokamp: We've mentioned it on the show, before, but one of the very earliest subscribers to Rule Your Retirement was Bob Hassmiller. He was just a great guy. And every year he wrote a letter to his wife who was not as financially savvy. She was very professionally successful but she just wasn't into all this stuff. And he laid it all out. This is where all our documents are. This is where our insurance policies are. If you need any help these are the people to talk to. And he updated it every year so she had something to work from if something happened to him.

And very tragically he was killed in a bike accident when he was age 70, so his wife Sue was able to access that document. It's part of Rule Your Retirement, but we publish it for free on Fool.com. You can find it at www.Fool.com/retirement/letter.aspx. It provides the whole template, because Bob actually wrote a couple of explanations of how he does it. It's very helpful.

I've been following it for years. But even when I went on vacation a month ago, I sent an email to my sister-in-law saying, "If something happens, this is where you go to find all the documents you need (my will and all that stuff) in case anything happens."

Brinsfield: You'll be happy to know this is sort of spread among Fool culture because I reviewed someone else's letter...

Brokamp: Oh, really?

Brinsfield: Yes, another Fool came to me and was like, "I wrote the letter. Do you want to take a look at it?" And I was like, "If you don't see it as an invasion of privacy, yes, I really want to read it."

Brokamp: Part of it is just there is so much that you have. All your accounts. All your things. If something were to happen to you, would people know where to find it? I was talking to someone. He's a financial planner and he was saying someone he works with had a young kid in the family. [The kid] casually mentioned that he had this account where he was trading cryptocurrency and stuff like that.

But it was the only mention of this account anywhere. And unfortunately this young person passed away, but if they didn't have that one mention, they would have never known it existed. And every financial services firm has all these basically dead accounts because someone passed away or forgot about them. and no one has touched them for years, if not decades.

Gates: And a controversial take, a little bit. These documents are really nice to have in place. So often I'm taking a call from a customer because they're prompted to have us manage their assets for the benefit of their spouse or loved one. It always is interesting to me that this partner of theirs they view as almost unable to talk about it. I'll ask, "Why don't we consider bringing them on the phone? Let's loop them into the conversation. You've self-certified that they are just desperately avoiding talking about finances."

I think we should be more open to the idea of having people uniformly talk about finances, both your husband and wife or partner. It doesn't have to be some third party because you've deemed the other partner did not want to do it.

Brinsfield: And I think specifically with the topic of death, the US is unique in its avoidance of the topic. I've noticed when I've talked to international clients or folks that have immigrated to the US, they're like, "Yeah, when I kick the bucket here's what's going to happen." There's no shyness around the topic or, I would say, much less than average. In the US there's this presumption that if we talk about death you must be wishing it upon the other person or something, and so it's really avoided.

We joked a little bit about having a party to talk about what you want to happen when you die, but I don't actually see that as being that far-fetched of an idea. I might actually plan one. I'll invite you all.

Brokamp: [Laughs]

Southwick: Give a PowerPoint presentation. Charts.

Brinsfield: PowerPoint kills a party, I've found.

Southwick: I can help you make a good PowerPoint. We could have fun with it.

Brinsfield: In terms of other resources, I'll put a pitch out there for a book that I found really helpful as a caretaker watching someone in their last days. It is called, Final Gifts. It's a book that's been written by a couple of hospice nurses just about what to expect when someone is in their last days. And things that sound really crazy aren't that crazy, actually, at that stage in life.

Southwick: Wonderful. Did you want to add something?

Gates: I don't think we mentioned this, but obviously, if you haven't considered talking with a professional; a professional would be someone who's good to talk to, either a financial advisor or directly with estate planning attorneys. These are steps you should take. Have the conversation and see where it goes and then get an informed decision.

Southwick: Thanks, you guys, for coming in. I'm going to do a little disclosure, but I'm going to ask you guys to stick around so we can end on a slightly happier note. Does that sound good?

Gates: Yes.

Southwick: Our sister company, Motley Fool Wealth Management, is a registered investment advisor that can help put your financial plan and investing needs in the context of your big life transitions. If you've enjoyed learning from Megan and Sean or the other Motley Fool Wealth Management planners we've had on the show, you can get even more of them in your life. Visit FoolWealth.com/radio. At FoolWealth.com/radio you can find podcasts, notes, and resources and even book a no-obligation appointment with Sean, Megan, or another planner you probably heard on the show.

Please consider the risks, costs, and suitability of investments before choosing any investment professionals. All investments involve risk and may lose money. Motley Fool Wealth Management does not guarantee the results of any of its advice or account management.


Southwick: I promised that we were going to end on a slightly happier note.

Brokamp: We'll try.

Southwick: We're going to test your knowledge of crazy will requests. I pulled most of these from a MentalFloss.com article by Ethan Trex, so thank you, Ethan Trex. I'm just cribbing everything from you. All right. Are you ready?

Brokamp: We're ready.

Southwick: Heinrich Heine, the German poet, left his entire fortune to his wife, but with one catch. She had to remarry because... Rick, do you want to play?

Rick Engdahl: Because, um... No, I don't want to play.

Brokamp: Did you say he was a poet?

Southwick: He was a poet. And he was going to leave her his entire fortune, but she had to remarry before she could get the money because...

Gates: They were never actually married?

Brokamp: They didn't have an heir and he wanted an heir? No?

Brinsfield: He wanted all the poetry to still be true.

Engdahl: He wanted his death to be tragic.

Southwick: Yes. He said, "Because then there will be at least one man to regret my death."

Brokamp: Oh, ho, ho, ho, ho.

Gates: Burned.

Brokamp: Ouch.

Southwick: The next one. S. Sanborn, a 19th century New England hatter, made a macabre bequest to his friend -- a pair of drums made from his own skin. The friend received further instructions to go to Bunker Hill each June 17 and play what song on the drums?

Brokamp: What year is this?

Southwick: The 19th century.

Brokamp: Well, "Yankee Doodle," I guess.

Southwick: Hey! You got it! Nice. Very good. I don't know how you play "Yankee Doodle Dandy" on a drum...

Brokamp: Bum bum bum! Something like that.

Brinsfield: It sounds like "Good King Wenceslas."

Southwick: The Canadian attorney Charles Millar died a childless bachelor, but he left $568,000 to the mother who gave birth to the most children in Toronto in the 10 years following his death in 1928. This bequest prompted what Canadians called "the Baby Derby," as mothers raced to win the fortune. Finally, in 1938, four winners split the prize after giving birth to how many babies apiece? The most babies in 10 years following his death.

Brokamp: Well, so if we say one a year, it's 10, but we want to be even more surprised. I'm going to go with 13.

Southwick: That's a lot of babies.

Gates: I'll do "Price is Right." Twelve.

Brokamp: One dollar! One dollar!

Southwick: The answer is nine.

Brokamp: Aw.

Engdahl: I was thinking twins.

Brokamp: What? Yeah?


Southwick: Maybe someone would have just had a ton of twins. It's not clear how Henry Budd originally made 200,000 pounds, but when he died in 1862 he left his fortune to his two sons on the condition that they never grow what?

Engdahl: Beards.

Gates: Yes.

Brokamp: Weed.

Southwick: That's a good one, too.

Gates: Bitcoin.

Southwick: Yes, but neither sully their lips with a mustache.

Brokamp: Oh.

Southwick: Close. Beard is close. Last one.

Brokamp: About an inch, very close.

Southwick: When longtime comic book writer and editor Mark Gruenwald died in 1996, fans of Marvel Comics probably thought they'd seen the last of the former Captain America writer. Gruenwald had other ideas, though. What did he request be done with his ashes?

Brinsfield: Turned into a comic book?

Brokamp: If it was Hunter S. Thompson it would be shot from a cannon, but...

Southwick: But it's not.

Brokamp: But it's not. Turned into a shield.

Gates: Yeah.

Engdahl: When was this?

Southwick: In 1996.

Engdahl: Put in a movie somehow?

Gates: I would have said turned into a shield.

Southwick: I'm going to give it to Megan. He had his ashes mixed into the ink to be used to print the first trade paperback anthology of Squadron Supreme, one of his landmark creations.

Brokamp: Wow!

Southwick: I'll give that to Megan. Again, I never keep score, so I guess we're all winners.

Brokamp: Did you hear that very recently one of the actresses in Willy Wonka passed away -- the one who played Violet Beauregarde?

Gates: Oh, yes.

Brokamp: But she died very poor, so the family is asking for money so that her ashes can be made into a glass sculpture. You can find that GoFundMe page and you can contribute to that if you'd like.

Southwick: I think there's other things I should spend my money on.

Brokamp: [Laughs]

Engdahl: Is the sculpture of a blueberry?

Brokamp: It could be.

Southwick: Well, Sean and Megan, thank you so much for joining us and for capping off our series on major life events. This has been a great series. We've gotten a lot of good feedback from people on it, so thank you for doing it.

Gates: Our pleasure.

Brinsfield: Glad to contribute.

Southwick: All right.

Gates: What's the bad feedback?

Brokamp: [Laughs]

Brinsfield: [Laughs]

Southwick: [Laughs] Uh, you got the bad feedback. Remember?

Gates: Yes!

Southwick: Because he was such a cynic about marriage.

Gates: Yeah!

Brokamp: Don't tell his wife.

Southwick: Your advice was, "Yes, get a prenup." Absolutely had to get a prenup.

Gates: Yes.

Engdahl: And once you get married, then you get a...

Gates: Yes, a post-nup.

Engdahl: Very cynical.

Southwick: Just get all the nups... And get all the nups out there.

Brokamp: Nup it up.

Southwick: So people thought that maybe you were not enough of a romantic to be offering advice on "Couples and Cash."

Gates: Almost certainly true.

Brokamp: [Laughs]

Brinsfield: [Laughs]

Southwick: Well, that's the show. It's edited romantically by Rick Engdahl. Our email is Answers@Fool.com. For Robert Brokamp, I'm Alison Southwick. Stay Foolish everybody.

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