Host Jon Luskin, CFP® and the do-it-yourself investor community ask questions to financial experts – live.
You can get the dates and times for the next Bogleheads® Live by following the John C Bogle Center for Financial Literacy (@bogleheads) on Twitter.
You can see a list of previousBogleheads® Live episodes here.
Mike Piper, CPA discusses his new book, “After the Death of Your Spouse: Next Financial Steps for Surviving Spouses.”
- Bogleheads® Live with Mike Piper: Episode 9
- Bogleheads® Live with Mike Piper: Episode 23
- After the Death of Your Spouse: Next Financial Steps for Surviving Spouses
- Open Social Security
- Bogleheads on Investing with Ryan Barrett and Mike Piper: Episode 52
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[00:00:00] Jon Luskin: Bogleheads® Live is our ongoing Twitter Space series where the do-it-yourself investor community asks their questions to financial experts live on Twitter. You can ask your questions by joining us for the next Twitter Space. Get the dates and times for the next Bogleheads® Live by following the John C. Bogle Center for Financial Literacy on Twitter. That’s @bogleheads.
[00:00:22] For those that can’t make the live events, episodes are recorded and turned into a podcast. This is that podcast.
[00:00:29] And a special note for our podcast listeners: we are now all caught up in editing past live Twitter series into these podcasts. That means you can now expect new episodes of the podcast to come out after they’ve been recorded.
[00:00:47] It also means that I’ll be including dates and times for the next live Twitter series so that our podcast listeners can attend the live show if they want to ask their question to the show’s guest. And now onto the 36th episode of Bogleheads® Live.
[00:01:04] Thank you for joining us for the 36th episode of Bogleheads® Live. Where the do-it-yourself investor community asks questions to financial experts live. My name is Jon Luskin and I’m your host. Our guest for today is Mike Piper, returning for his third appearance on Bogleheads® Live, tied with index fund champion Rick Ferri for the highest attendance of this series so far.
[00:01:29] Enough about that. Let’s start by talking about the Bogleheads®, a community of investors who believe in keeping it simple, following a small number of tried-and-true investing principles.
[00:01:41] This episode of Bogleheads® Live, as with all episodes, is brought to you by the John C. Bogle Center for Financial Literacy, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to helping people make better financial decisions. Visit boglecenter.net to find valuable information and to make a tax-deductible donation. That’s boglecenter.net/donate.
[00:02:02] Before we get started on today’s show, some announcements. For the next Bogleheads® Live, we’ll have Christine Benz, Morningstar Director of Personal Finance, returning to discuss her new research on sustainable spending in retirement. Here’s a teaser: the sustainable distribution rate that she’s calculated has gone up since her research from last year. That’ll be Tuesday, January 10th at 12:00 PM Pacific, 3:00 PM Eastern.
[00:02:27] Before we get started on today’s show, a disclaimer. This is for informational and entertainment purposes only, and should not be relied upon as a basis for investment, tax, or other financial planning decisions.
[00:02:37] Let’s get started on today’s show with Mike Piper. Mike is a CPA in the St. Louis area. He’s written several books dealing with various tax and retirement planning concepts, and has been quoted about such topics in numerous publications from the Wall Street Journal, AARP, to Morningstar. He publishes regularly about tax planning, retirement planning, Social Security, and other financial planning topics on his blog at obliviousinvestor.com. He’s also the creator of the Open Social Security calculator. Mike was also a guest on the 9th episode of Bogleheads® Live, where we talked about Social Security and on the 23rd episode where we discussed estate planning.
[00:03:12] Mike Piper, thanks for joining us today on Bogleheads® Live. Your new book entitled, “After the Death of Your Spouse: Next Financial Steps for Surviving Spouses.” Recently you were on the Bogleheads® on Investing podcast with host Rick Ferri, discussing that new book. Folks can check that out, and I’ll link to that in the show notes.
[00:03:29] Let’s jump to some questions we got about your new book from the Bogleheads® forums.
[00:03:34] This one is from username ‘Like2read’ who writes: “When naming beneficiaries for an IRA account, it appears to be best that my wife qualifies as a sole beneficiary. It looks like this will afford her the maximum flexibility when choosing among withdrawal options should I predecease her. That said, I would also like to name a few elderly beneficiaries for a portion of the IRA. I’m thinking about splitting my IRA into two, naming my wife as the only primary beneficiary on IRA #1 and the others as equal primary beneficiaries on IRA #2. Is splitting the IRA into two necessary? We are not in a community property state.”
[00:04:12] Mike Piper: An underlying topic here, which is that when a spouse inherits an IRA, they have some additional options that other beneficiaries don’t have.
[00:04:22] And, I saw on Bogleheads® that they raise the topic of uncertainty about how this is treated. I’m not aware of any uncertainty. This is right in the treasury regulations. It’s also in IRS publications. Basically, the way the rules work is that if there are multiple beneficiaries named – let’s call them non-human beneficiaries – so, a charity for instance, as long as they get their share separated out – distributed to them – by September 30th of the year following the year of death, and as long as all of the individual people – the human beneficiaries – each have their portion of it separated out into separate inherited IRAs, then each of those named beneficiaries gets the best tax treatment possible for that type of beneficiary.
[00:05:08] So, the deadline for non-human beneficiaries, their money needs to be out of the IRA by September 30 of the year following death. And for everybody else, it’s by the end of the year following the year of death. So, they’ve got another few months.
[00:05:22] So basically, there’s no need to split it into separate IRAs during your lifetime. That can definitely be done after a person’s death. And that’s done all the time.
[00:05:30] Jon Luskin: This one is from username ‘Miriam2’ who writes: “What is the biggest mistake or several biggest mistakes you have found that surviving spouses make, and how can these be avoided?”
[00:05:44] Mike Piper: To me, one thing that I see unfortunately often is a complete lack of awareness of Social Security benefits that you can get. Basically, you can get a survivor benefit as soon as you reach age 60. A few years ago, there were some changes to the rules with regard to retirement and spousal benefits that said that you basically can’t any longer file for one benefit and collect that one benefit while you let your other benefit keep growing.
[00:06:12] But what a lot of people don’t know: those changes did not apply to survivor benefits. What usually makes sense for a surviving spouse to do if they’re already a surviving spouse in their sixties is to file early for one type of benefit. File at age 60 for their survivor benefit, and let their retirement benefit keep growing until age 70. But you then you got to collect that survivor benefit for 10 years in the meantime.
[00:06:39] Or do the opposite. File as early as you can for your retirement benefits – that would be 62 – and collect that retirement benefit while you let your survivor benefit grow until it maxes out at your full retirement age.
[00:06:50] And that’s one that I see people miss a lot, unfortunately. Just because they don’t know that they can do that. And if you miss it, it’s just completely money down the drain. There’s no upside. It’s just benefits that you could have collected and then you didn’t collect them. So, it’s really unfortunate when you see that one.
[00:07:05] There are also mistakes being made with IRAs. So as a surviving spouse, when you inherit an IRA, you can either roll it into your own IRA or continue to own it as a spousal beneficiary. And there’s pros and cons of doing that, and some people don’t take the time to really look into the upsides and downsides of those two options.
[00:07:23] Jon Luskin: Mike, with respect to the best Social Security claiming strategy for surviving spouses, your tool opensocialsecurity.com, would that be a good resource for folks to check out?
[00:07:37] Mike Piper: Yeah. It does handle those situations. An important thing to note is that if you are still working, then it’s important to check the box at the top of the page for additional options so you can input that information about your ongoing earnings. Because the Social Security earnings test is a particularly important factor in the decision for surviving spouses. So, I would encourage anybody using the calculator to check that box at the top of the page for the other options to see if there are any complicating factors that might apply to them. But in this case, it’s especially important to make sure to do that.
[00:08:09] Jon Luskin: For folks who want to learn more about how to think about using Mike’s tool at opensocialsecurity.com, check out the previous episode of Bogleheads® Live where we had Mike as a guest where we geeked out on some of the considerations in using that tool and how to interpret the results of that calculator.
[00:08:25] This one is from username ‘Homestretch’ who writes: “I handle all the finances, taxes, and investments because my spouse is uninterested. What steps should I take to prepare my spouse to possibly be a surviving spouse?”
[00:08:40] Mike Piper: This is something I hear a lot also. Especially in the Bogleheads® community, you’ve got a lot of very interested do-it-yourselfers, people who hang out on Bogleheads® for fun. And of course, most of the time, their partners are not as interested in these topics.
[00:08:53] Thing number one you can do, and this is generally beneficial, but it’s especially beneficial in this sort of family dynamic is just do what you can to simplify. And that can mean simplifying the portfolio in terms of fewer total holdings. A slice and dice portfolio with small cap value funds and international small value funds and a REIT fund and all these different things that you might see, maybe that’s pretty neat to you and maybe you think that’s going to give you some slightly better risk adjusted return, but if you know your spouse isn’t interested in this, when they see that it’s not helpful to them.
[00:09:27] A simple three fund portfolio or in some cases just a target date fund or a LifeStrategy fund – although of course those are not good fits for taxable accounts – but a simple portfolio. So, simplify now rather than expecting your spouse to do it on their own later.
[00:09:41] An additional point there, but cognitive decline is a reality that happens to most people to one degree or another. We don’t know exactly when it’s going to start or how quickly it’s going to happen, but same thing there: the simpler the portfolio is, the better the position you put yourself in.
[00:10:00] Another thing is simplifying in terms of number of accounts. If you’ve got three different traditional IRAs, one at Vanguard, one at Schwab, and one wherever else, consolidate them. That’s usually beneficial from just managing the portfolio point of view, it makes it easier for yourself and the time you’re in charge of it, and it’s going to make it easier on your spouse.
[00:10:18] Those are the biggest things I would say. Again, Social Security comes into it. The larger the benefit that your surviving spouse would have, whether it’s a survivor benefit or their own retirement benefit, the less important all the portfolio stuff is. If their needs are taken care of from something safe like this, then it’s not as critical that they absolutely maximize or get the most returns that they can from the investment accounts.
[00:10:39] Single premium emitted annuity, because it’s very simple. Once you’ve purchased it, it’s now just a pension for your spouse. Downside of course is that insurance companies have profit margins, so on average they don’t work out as well as a non-annuitized option. And they aren’t inflation adjusted anymore. You can’t buy inflation adjusted ones. So, you’re still leaving that significant risk for your spouse.
[00:11:03] Just simplifying. That’s the single biggest thing you can do. Simplify, simplify, simplify. Work on leaving good directions for your spouse. These are where all of our accounts are. Frankly, take time to make sure that they know that now. Because that’s important. They should know where all of the money is, what types of insurance you have and through which insurance companies, and so on. So, make sure they know all of that. Make sure they know how to sign into the accounts. Make sure they have that basic information and hopefully they know the answers off the top of their head. And if they don’t, they at least know where to look for them.
[00:11:35] Jon Luskin: I couldn’t agree more about simplifying. Not only is it going to make it easier for your spouse, but believe it or not, it’s going to make it easier for you. I like how Rick Ferri frames the investing journey of an indexer born into darkness, learn about index investing, add complexity, and then appreciate simplicity.
[00:11:57] Again, making it simple, that’s going to help not only your spouse, but yourself as well.
[00:12:03] Mike, you mentioned good directions with respect to setting up your spouse for success. I call this an emergency letter. You want to let them know where all the accounts are and how to access them. A great way to do this is share all that account login information securely with a password manager. 1Password, as I understand it, is one of the best options out there.
[00:12:29] And then another suggestion, as Rick Ferri mentioned in his recent podcast interview with you is leaving a copy of your book with that emergency letter. That can also set up your spouse for success.
[00:12:44] Aaron, you should be able to ask your question to Mike.
[00:12:47] Aaron (audience #1): My question is, after writing and doing this research, would you mind sharing for yourself what the most surprising thing you learned is, or how you implemented or how you thought about this sort of topic differently than before when you did the work?
[00:13:06] Mike Piper: That’s a great question. I guess I would say a greater appreciation for when it’s time to hire an attorney. The applicable laws – of course I knew this beforehand – they vary by state. The processes for probate and so on vary by county. They really, really, do. And so just because you read something on the Bogleheads® forum or anywhere else on the internet, doesn’t necessarily mean that that’s what’s going to be applicable and true for you.
[00:13:34] As a Boglehead® myself, I really appreciate the DIY point of view, trying to learn as much as we can on our own. But in this process of writing this book, I actually hired three attorneys from different states to take care of technical editing precisely for that reason. There’s so much variation that I wanted to make sure, because it really does vary. That would be my biggest takeaway, is that difference.
[00:13:58] Jon Luskin: This one is from username ‘rob’ who writes: “Thoughts on moving to a financial advisor only in order to shield the uninvolved spouse from falling prey to your friendly but high-fee investment advisor?”
[00:14:14] Mike Piper: That’s a good question. Of course, as a financial professional myself, I have some degree of conflict of interest here. Again, I think it’s useful to make these steps in advance. I do. Although I’ll also note that you’re talking about a planner where it’s a really high ongoing fee. And when I say really high, I don’t mean like higher than a market rate. I simply mean the dollar amount is quite significant. Then I can see not wanting to pay that in advance.
[00:14:41] Rick always talks about how people will tell him, oh, I’ve told my spouse to contact you when I die, and that never happens. And that makes sense because if the spouse doesn’t know the advisor, the spouse has never met them, has never interacted with them, has no reason to trust them, well then exactly that. They have no reason to trust that advisor.
[00:15:00] I do think that if you want your spouse to work with a particular advisor after your death, it probably would be best to go ahead and engage them now. Perhaps if the advisor offers it, as a one-time plan sort of thing so that your spouse could get to know them, learn a little bit about how they work, and then might feel more comfortable with them in the future. But then you’re not paying ongoing fees for all years in between. But not every planner’s going to offer that. So, so that’s not always going be a great fit.
[00:15:32] Jon Luskin: This one is from username ‘Morgen’ who writes: “What is necessary for the surviving spouse to reset basis on the family home.”
[00:15:41] And Mike, before answering this one, perhaps you want to give a little bit of cost basis 101.
[00:15:46] Mike Piper: In general, when you sell an asset, if you sell it for more than what you paid for it, you have a capital gain. And you have to pay tax on that again, in many cases. And generally, the amount that you paid for something is your cost basis.
[00:16:01] To calculate the gain, you subtract your cost basis from the amount of money that you got when you sold this asset. If the amount that you received is more than your basis, then you have gain.
[00:16:12] Now, when you inherit property, if you inherit it from somebody other than your spouse, there’s going to be a full step up in cost basis. What that means is that, your cost basis will be set equal to the fair market value on the date of death.
[00:16:29] Example: let’s say somebody purchases a home for $200,000. They live in that home for many, many years. They die, and the home at the time is worth $700,000. And the kids inherit that $700,000 home. Well, they can sell it right away and they won’t have to pay tax on that $500,000 of appreciation. Because when they inherited the asset, the fair market value at the time of death – the $700,000 – that’s what became their cost basis.
[00:16:57] I saw this question on the forum. He asked, do you need an appraisal or a realtor estimate? Appraisal is the answer. That’s definitely the value that you’re supposed to be working with, so that you know the value to use for when the time comes later and the asset gets sold.
[00:17:14] Jon Luskin: This next question is for a username ‘obafgkm’ from the Bogleheads® forums who writes: “What are suggestions and best practices as what to do to take advantage of the qualifying widower filing status?”
[00:17:28] Again, perhaps Mike, you can give us a little bit of a 101 of what that is.
[00:17:32] Mike Piper: For the two years after the year of death, if the surviving spouse has minor children, they can use the qualifying widower with dependent child filing status, or now it’s qualifying surviving spouse with dependent child filing status. And basically, the way that works is that they get to continue using the standard deduction and tax brackets that a married couple filing jointly would have. So, essentially paying less tax than they would if they were filing a single.
[00:18:02] Now the only thing you need to do to get that filing status is you just check that box if it applies to you on your 1040 or in TurboTax or wherever you’re doing it. But ways you could take advantage of it – of course it depends on circumstances because that’s how tax planning always works – but if you recognize that right now you have a lower tax rate for the next couple of years than you’re likely to have going forward once your filing status just goes to being single, then it could make sense during those couple of years to be doing Roth conversions to take advantage of that lower tax rate.
[00:18:35] But it’s not the sort of thing that’s always going to make sense, because by definition here we’re talking about a situation where you have one or more minor children, so you’re probably still in your working years. Even if it’s perhaps a lower tax rate than it would be three years from now, it still might be a pretty high tax rate and it might not make sense. There isn’t necessarily anything to be done to take advantage of it, but it’s at least worth looking into.
[00:19:00] Jon Luskin: Yeah, certainly that could be more applicable if we’re dealing with a non-working spouse.
[00:19:05] Mike Piper: Exactly. Of course, though, the flip side there is that when you’ve got a non-working spouse as a surviving spouse, 9 times out of 10 if they’ve got minor children, what that spouse is going to be doing, their top priority right now is becoming a working, surviving spouse. Most of the time.
[00:19:19] Obviously if there’s enough life insurance that they don’t need to go out and find a job, okay, great. Then yeah, Roth conversions. But a lot of times they’re going to be looking at finding them earned income as quickly as we can. So, their tax rate and their income might be going up relative to what it had been.
[00:19:33] Jon Luskin: This one is from username ‘stan1’ who writes: “At what point should responsible adult children be brought in to assist a spouse?”
[00:19:45] Mike Piper: That’s a tricky question. How much does the surviving spouse know? And, what’s their financial literacy level? And it’s not a sort of thing where you could say, they’re 8 out of 10, and so then we don’t need to bring the kids in. Or they’re a 4 out of 10, so we do need to bring the kids in. It’s a gray area.
[00:20:00] And then of course, not only is it a gray area, but in many cases, we’re talking about people who are advanced in age. And so, there’s a question of is there some sort of cognitive decline going on? Maybe yes, maybe no. Maybe, we can’t even tell because that happens too, frankly. I wish I had a clearer answer other than to simply say that you know your parents better than anyone else. Whatever judgment you have there is probably the best judgment that there is.
[00:20:27] Jon Luskin: Certainly, I’ve worked with a few families where the spouse who passed is going to be that spouse who handles all the household finances. Oftentimes, this will be the husband and then the wife has to figure out how to manage everything. And they’ve got some kids, and those kids, they’re Bogleheads® and then they bring the parent to me, and we’ll have a conversation about managing this legacy portfolio that Dad left. Or sometimes it’ll even be managing the portfolio that an existing high-fee advisor is managing, and now that dad has passed, that relationship with that high-fee advisor is no longer an issue. The family has some more flexibility with how to invest in more of a lower cost manner.
[00:21:13] I think it’s an issue of how financially illiterate you are, the kids are, and how much you want to get involved in helping your parents. But a lot of folks do this.
[00:21:25] Mike Piper: That situation you described. That’s exactly the reason I wrote the book. So many households, so many couples, where one person takes on the overwhelming majority of the financial tasks. And so, the other person has decades in many cases of not having dealt with this stuff. And now all of a sudden, they do have to deal with it plus a whole bunch of other administrative processes – going through probate and so on. And they just simply aren’t very well equipped to do it.
[00:21:49] That was the driving force behind writing the book in the first place, was just to give people some resource to guide them through it.
[00:21:56] Jon Luskin: And a great resource indeed. Short, quick read. Great examples. Certainly, a good place to look if you find yourself in that situation.
[00:22:07] We got a couple questions that are related from username ‘sockmonkey’ and username ‘user9532’ who ask about steps that children or other beneficiaries should take?
[00:22:22] Mike Piper: The first thing to know is the step up in cost basis that we just talked about. When you inherit any taxable account assets, so taxable brokerage account stuff, or a house or anything like that, your basis is set equal to the fair market value. So, you can sell it right away and not have to pay tax.
[00:22:40] And, I see that sometimes where people don’t, because they didn’t know that. Then some years later they have these appreciated holdings that they don’t really have any idea why they are holding them anymore. They don’t play any meaningful role in the portfolio, but now there would be a tax cost to selling them. Whereas if they had just sold them right away, there wouldn’t have been any taxes and then they could just deploy those funds to whatever existing, simple Bogleheads® portfolio they already have. So, that’s thing number one to know.
[00:23:08] I guess thing number two is retirement accounts. For any inherited Roth accounts, unless you need the money, it generally makes sense to leave it in there as long as you can. Most of the time we’re going to be dealing with the 10-year rule here, which means that the money has to be distributed within 10 years.
[00:23:23] It does not have to be distributed evenly among those 10 years. So, you can wait until year 10 and then take it all out then. And that usually makes sense with the Roth account because there’s no concern about a whole bunch of money being taxable all in one year because it’s Roth.
[00:23:38] Conversely, with an inherited tax-deferred account, if it’s going to be distributed over 10 years it is worth knowing still that you don’t have to do it evenly over those 10 years. But you don’t want to wait until year 10, generally, if it’s a significant amount. Because then you’re going to likely pay a considerably higher tax rate on those dollars than if you had spread it out over time. It does make sense in many cases not to do it exactly evenly over the 10 years. Because your income’s going to fluctuate somewhat. And so, if you realize for whatever reason that this year is a somewhat lower income year, it likely makes sense to bump up that distribution from the inherited IRA somewhat this year. Those are the biggest things I see as far as tax planning when you inherit assets.
[00:24:22] Jon Luskin: Mike, what are the considerations for inheriting a 401(k) or other workplace plan? Is it substantially different from inheriting an IRA that we just talked about?
[00:24:34] Mike Piper: It could be in that there’s often going to be different distribution rules. But the big thing to know is that you can roll the money into an inherited IRA, and then you have access to all of the normal inherited IRA treatment and options you have that way. It’s not a big, big thing you need to worry about.
[00:24:56] Jon Luskin: Lorenzo, you should be able to ask your question to Mike Piper.
[00:25:01] Lorenzo (audience #2): Typically, the person who is in charge of the finances would die and then the spouse who may not have any knowledge of that fact or of finances is now being immersed into taking on that role.
[00:25:15] So, is there any advice or a way to gain a feel for a partner who is financially literate and/or interested in that kind of thing?
[00:25:24] Mike Piper: I mean, this is just Mike as a guy here, not Mike as an expert CPA kind of thing. I would say you’re absolutely right that your choice of partner is critically important to your financial success over your lifetime. I wouldn’t necessarily say, at least for me I wouldn’t have said it’s critical that this person be super-duper financially literate. Like they don’t necessarily need to know why index funds are better than actively managed mutual funds.
[00:25:54] More important to me would be values I’m talking here like financial values. What do we both think that it’s important to spend money on? And what do we both think that it’s really not important to spend money on so that we can cost cut in those areas? Because if there’s disagreement there, that’s going to be a challenge. Whereas if it’s just the sort of thing like if you do agree on your values, but this person who you’re dating doesn’t know what Roth conversion is, well, okay, fine, who cares? They can learn about that. But if it’s disagreements in terms of the things that you prioritize and the things you care about, that’s going to be a lot more important.
[00:26:31] Jon Luskin: I would echo that. Absolutely. I think about going to my own personal life, and my wife is pretty darn frugal. She can’t tell you marginal tax rate considerations for doing the Roth conversions, to your point. But just who she is as a person, she’s not a spendthrift. So that’s going to be a really important consideration if that’s your goal. And it’s certainly a good goal. Absolutely. Having that right partnership is critical to the financial success of your household.
[00:27:01] With respects to what steps can children and other beneficiaries take for being the survivors of their parents, handling their parents’ estate? And Mike, you can let me know if you disagree, but there’s a lot of information in your book that talks about getting death certificates, getting organized. That’s going to apply whether you’re dealing with a parent’s death or dealing with a spouse’s death. Really just a great resource on what to do after the death of a loved one, a family member.
[00:27:33] Mike Piper: Yeah, definitely a lot of the same things do apply, because a chunk of the book is basically the responsibilities that the personal representative of the estate – so, that’s the executor or administrator – that’s often the surviving spouse if there is a surviving spouse. If no surviving spouse, then it’s often going to be one of the kids. And so, the responsibilities are the same for that person as they would be for somebody else in the personal representative role. A lot of the same things do still apply.
[00:27:59] Jon Luskin: I’ve got one final question from the Bogleheads® forums. This one is from username ‘Iws’, who writes: “How should your surviving spouse handle your Treasury Direct account if you have one?”
[00:28:09] Mike Piper: It’s no different, in this regard, than any other brokerage account basically. So, the surviving spouse is going to notify Treasury Direct of the death, and Treasury Direct is going to put a hold on the account and give you directions as to what you need to do next. And you’ll need to provide them with documentation of the death. So, the death certificate. As well as documentation showing that you are the personal representative of the estate. If you are. If you’re not, if somebody else is, then that other person is going to have to provide them with that documentation.
[00:28:45] And then that will basically allow the personal representative of the estate, whether it’s you or somebody else, it will allow what needs to be done with those assets, basically make sure they get distributed to the appropriate party or parties.
[00:28:57] Jon Luskin: Mike, any final thoughts before I let you go?
[00:29:01] Mike Piper: For surviving spouses, the biggest piece of information, the biggest piece of guidance I could give would be to take it slowly. Because there’s a whole bunch of decisions that you’re going to need to make, and they’re important, but most of them aren’t urgent. So, for instance, if you got a big life insurance death benefit payout, yes, you will need to decide how to invest that money. But if you make that decision six months from now as opposed to three months from or now as opposed to today, you’re going to miss out on a little bit of expected returns. That’s true. But it’s not the sort of thing that you want to rush.
[00:29:39] The possibility of making the wrong decision, making a bad decision due to rushing is a much bigger concern than you missed out on a few months of interest. So, take your time with all of the big decisions. Almost none of them need to be rushed.
[00:29:51] Jon Luskin: Amen. I know as a financial planner, I’m always steering folks towards the much more boring, but much more important financial planning topics that usually is not going to involve taxes or investing. I got an email this morning, a follow up from a gentleman that I worked with early in the year, and he asked about doing some tax loss harvesting on bond funds given their performance year-to-date.
[00:30:13] And I answered his question, but I also said that’s all fun and cool and interesting, but remember the really important things that I put on the top of your list are making sure your estate planning is done, getting that umbrella insurance policy. That’s much more boring, but much more important. I encourage you to do that first. Once you’ve done that, sure, go ahead and do that tax loss harvesting.
[00:30:34] Mike Piper: Absolutely. We spend a lot of time on Bogleheads® talking about these maximizing things we could do. Things that will help a little bit if you do them just right. But there are so many other absolutely critical things that you don’t want to be going about your life without having that box checked off. Having your basic estate planning documents and so on. Just like you said. Disability insurance, appropriate amount of life insurance if there are other people who are dependent upon you and so on.
[00:30:58] Jon Luskin: Well, folks, that is all the time that we have for today. Thank you to Mike Piper for joining us today, and thank you for everyone who joined us for today’s Bogleheads® Live. The next Bogleheads® Live, the first of 2023 is going to be featuring Christine Benz, Morningstar’s Director of Personal Finance, returning to discuss her team’s new research on sustainable spending in retirement. She’ll be answering your questions live on Twitter. That’ll be Tuesday, January 10th, 12:00 PM Pacific, 3:00 PM Eastern.
[00:31:26] Between now and then, you can submit your questions for our future guests on the Bogleheads® forums at bogleheads.org and on Bogleheads® Reddit. Until then, access a wealth of information for do-it-yourself investors at the John C. Bogle Center for Financial Literacy at boglecenter.net and bogleheads.org, Bogleheads® Wiki, Bogleheads® Twitter, Bogleheads® YouTube channel, the Bogleheads® on Investing podcast with host Rick Ferri, Bogleheads® Facebook, Bogleheads® Reddit, and Bogleheads® local and virtual chapters.
[00:31:55] For our podcast listeners, if you could take a moment to subscribe and to rate the podcast on Apple, Spotify, Google, wherever you get your podcasts. Thanks to those who left reviews of the show so far, including username ‘Jeremy_Z’ who wrote: “Jon Luskin does a great job of bringing on a diverse range of guests who cover new and interesting angles on the broad topic of personal finance. The focus on listener questions helps make it feel real and relatable.”
[00:32:20] Thank you, ‘Jeremy_Z’ for that review, and a thank you to Barry Barnitz and Chris for their work. And another thank you to Nathan Garza and Kevin for editing the podcast. And a final thank you to Mr. Zuke for oh-so-quickly transcribing the podcast episodes. I couldn’t do it without everyone’s help.
[00:32:38] Finally, I’d love your feedback. If you have a comment or a guest suggestion, tag your host @JonLuskin on Twitter. I’m especially looking for a cybersecurity expert to come on and talk about cybersecurity. So, if you can make a suggestion, shoot me a DM @JonLuskin on Twitter.
[00:32:56] Thank you again everyone. Look forward to seeing you all again next time. Until then, have a great one.
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