Keeping tabs

I’m one week away from celebrating a successful first year of marriage and am pretty excited about it. I like to think I’m a pretty great husband. I also like to think I’m a pretty good money manager. But, and this is a BIG but, I’ve completely dropped the ball in a major way.

If I was to die tomorrow, Girl Ninja would be up a creek without a paddle. Fifty percent of our net worth is tied up in my Roth IRA and my 401k. If I die tomorrow guess who gets all that money? My mom!!! I started both of those accounts four years ago…when I was single.

I’ve been really good about changing over all our documents, adding her to my bank accounts, combining insurances, etc, but for some reason I didn’t even think about who my listed beneficiaries were on pieces of paper I signed many, many years ago.

Sorry Mom, but you’ve been demoted to the second most important woman in my life and this week I’ve committed to making Girl Ninja my sole beneficiary on each of these accounts. Don’t worry, I still heart you though 🙂

…awkward transition…

As you all know, Girl Ninja will be teaching in a new school district this year. Over the last few years she has accumulated about $3,000 in the San Diego teachers retirement system. Since she has no plans to retire in San Diego, we need to roll that sucker over in to a private retirement account. We’ve been on the phone with Wells Fargo and are in the process of opening up her very first Roth IRA! Girl Ninja + Roth IRA = Sexiness!!!!!

Keeping tabs on these obscure personal finance tasks can be overwhelming but is totally necessary. Are there any PF things that have been on your to-do list for a while, but haven’t gotten around to? What PF chores do you, or did you, despise (setting up retirement accounts, changing your name, figuring out health insurance stuff, etc)?

P.s. If you are wondering why there are no cartoons it’s because I am on another mini vacation in Malibu, Canada (if you don’t know where that is Google it, it’s one of the prettiest places on earth) and only have my iPad. Sorry my blogging has been lame lately, but vacations totally rock my face off!!!!! I’ll be back home on Saturday.

28 thoughts on “Keeping tabs”

  1. I had NO IDEA there was a place called Malibu in Canada. Is that like when people say they spent the weekend in London and then say, defeatedly, “London…Ontario”? Haha. I hope you’re enjoying your time up here in the great white north. Hope people are being nice to you!

  2. Hope you’re enjoying your mini-vacation in Canada, eh!! We Canadians are a pretty nice bunch 🙂
    I didn’t change my name when I got married; quite frankly, I like my maiden name (one syllable, easy to pronounce), so I figured I’d stick with it… besides, neither my sister or I have kids (neither of us is procreating this late in the game), and we’re the last people in our family with our last name… I’m holding onto it as long as I can!

  3. Its Malibu, British Columbia, Canada – why do Americans fail to include the Province or Territory when describing places in Canada?

    sorry – pet peeve 🙂


      Seems like you’ve got a tun of Canadian readers Ninja.. or just a lot of happy Canadian commenters today!!!
      As for to do tasks, I’ve always got a huge huge list and right now I’m avoiding everything associated with moving.. but yesterday I canceled my internet and packed my first box so I’ve kinda got the ball rolling..

  4. Sorry to be a wet blanket, but if you’re genuinely concerned about dying tomorrow (or a major incapacitating event), you need to do more than re-assign your beneficiary. You both first of all need adequate term life insurance policies on the other. Then you both need a will, a financial power of attorney in case you can’t handle your financial affairs, a health care directive, and a living will in case you are medically incapacitated. You also need to appoint an executor for your will and agents for the other documents. Actually the will is probably the least important of these documents at this stage of your life, because if you were to die intestate, your assets would eventually be distributed according to your state’s laws, probably your spouse. Some people also advise setting up a living revocable trust, but I believe that’s overkill unless you have a large estate or own property in multiple states. And please don’t try to do all this on the cheap through one of these on-line services that’ll cost you $100. One mistake on any of these documents could invalidate it completely. My lawyer now charges $750 for all the necessary documents, and one reason I chose him was that he didn’t push a living trust on me.

    Agreed, the chances of your needing any of these materials right now is extremely small, but if you’re really concerned about proper financial planning, you should do things right.

    • The steps Larry has outlined are important to be sure. However, online services are perfectly adequate for couples with few complications. Plus, $750 for a will, living will, and a couple of POAs is higher than average through an attorney. Most will draft these documents for a few hundred dollars as all estate planning attorneys have a boilerplate source document where names are added and a little cutting, copying, and pasting follows shortly thereafter. In addition, each state has its own set of laws regarding medical POAs and living wills that require them to fit a particular mold (again, boilerplate). If you have substantial assets or have a unique situation, attorneys are indispensable. But if you’re just starting out, software or a lower hourly rate attorney is just fine.

      Also, if you don’t draft a will, here’s what it looks like as provided by the state:

      • You may find the following of interest:

        I’m sure lawyer fees vary substantially by location. Since I live in the New York City metro area, it’s quite possible I paid more than someone would have in Wyoming. But after interviewing 3-4 estate firms, I choose the one that gave the best value. As my lawyer admitted, he’s neither the cheapest nor the most expensive, but included in his flat rate was a 90-minute consultation, for which other firms were charging $400-500. Agreed, having documents of any kind is preferable to having none, but at least you want assurance that the documents have been drawn up correctly in accordance with your state’s laws.

  5. Hope you are enjoying your vacation! Who brought up you changing things over? Was it your initiative? I am just curious seeing as that can be an awkward convo to have.

  6. I’m also in the process of moving my retirement from a state school system into an IRA. Since I don’t live in the state anymore, it’s cost me about $1.50 in stamps, mailing the right form to two different people and back to the system. But, like Girl Ninja, it’s a good chunk of change (a little over $5,000) so I definitely want more control than knowing I have some money in a state retirement plan in a state that I used to live in… much better to have it in an account I have access to. But my beneficiary is still my mom =)

    • We have PMA accounts with wells fargo and get free account maintenance and 100 free trades a year. If we weren’t PMA then Vanguard would definitely be a waaaay better option.

  7. I’m fairly certain my ex-husband is still listed as the beneficiary on my retirement account. Oops. Guess new hubby (next month) will want to make sure that’s changed. However, last I knew, I was still the beneficiary on ex’s life insurance – more to do with the minor children we have together.

  8. haha Joanne I thought the exact same thing when I read “Malibu, Canada” Apparently Americans really do think Canada is just one giant land mass.

  9. I still have yet to get a will put together. Most everything else is in place, beneficiaries and all that on my 401(k) and term life. Still I guess I should say who gets to pay off the house after I go…

    Something for me to think about anyway…


  10. This blog post sparked a debate between myself and my future husband sitting on the sofa next to me.

    We can’t figure out if we need to link one another to our bank accounts, even though we’ve decided to keep personal checking accounts outside of our joint checking and saving when we’re married.

    It would be so nice if someone could come up with a personal finance checklist for newlyweds (wink*wink*nudge*nudge) 🙂

  11. I admit, that I’ve been putting off the start of a retirement fund for too long now. This has been on my ‘to-do’ list for some time, but after just recently landing a decent paying job and making some great progress on student loans, I think it is about time to start long term planning for the future. I don’t have a significant other at the moment, so I’m a long way from marriage and joint accounts, but it is something to keep in mind just in case. Thanks for the heads up!

  12. I have the paperwork to change everything over. Right now my best friend inherits everything because I didn’t want my family to get my assets when I die.

    Now it will be my hubby. Once we get my name changed i’ll be adding him on all our accounts and making sure everything is changed over.

  13. I was smiling the whole time i was reading your blog. That made me think too if what would happen to my family when i depart. Seems scary, but your story gave me an idea. 🙂 have a wonderful vacation!

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