Survivor Strategies

A few months ago, I asked Monica her game plan if something happened to me unexpectedly. Despite thinking that I’d laid everything out, she didn’t have one!

So I wrote out a plan that would take care of her and the kids. The plan seemed like a good idea, so I decided to execute it immediately, rather than waiting for something unpleasant to happen to me, or the family’s financial position forcing us to make changes when we weren’t in a position of strength. 


When my grandmother moved into assisted care, she was amazed (and a little depressed) at how little value was placed on her possessions. Having downsized a number of times, I could relate. While I’m downsizing for myself, an added bonus for my family is not having to worry about sorting through all my gear. I’ve had relatives that end their lives with multiple 40-foot containers of stuff, which places a burden on their spouses who have to sort through everything.

If we are fortunate to live long and prosper then, gradually, everything is striped away from us. As an athlete, I suspect that physical decline will prove challenging (but I’m coping so far). Keeping my world as large as possible, for as long as possible, is a big motivator for me to exercise and stay strong. Assuming that I keep at it for 40 years, I’m hoping to be in decent shape in my 80s. In Boulder, we have many active role models in their 60s, 70s and 80s.

The risk, to my family and young wife, is my mind leaves before I do.To help the survivors, I’ve chosen to insure my “living dead” risk via a long-term care policy. My policy is indexed to inflation and set at 120% of the current cost for me to go into long-term care. This benefits my family, if I live a very long time, and benefits me, if I’m incapacitated. It seemed like very good value as the expected payout for the insurance company is low but the potential liability for me could be very large.

The other thing I did was create a living trust that holds most of my assets. This simplifies the management of my affairs for the survivors. You don’t need to be a 1%’er for this structure to make sense. I linked up an FAQ to provide you with additional info. Combined with the living trust, my will dumps any remainder of my estate into the trust.

There are benefits available to your family from the above structure – so worth a review with an estate planner that understands your situation.

So I insured the main risk that could wipe out my family’s financial position and set up an efficient legal structure for my estate. The next step was to provide my wife with a copy of the family’s balance sheet with contact details and account numbers. In the event that I was incapacitated, my wife has a power of attorney so she can manage everything on our behalf. A similar power of attorney comes back to me, from her. As a side note, be very careful with granting power of attorneys as they are very powerful legal documents and I have seen them misused on multiple occasions.

Now, when I ask the question, Monica says she will pull out “the paper” (a single sheet) and follow along. With a couple more years to chip away, I hope to make my life structure even more straightforward for her.