By Mark H. Kaizerman, CPA, CFP®
Reviewed by Gary W. Silverman, CFP®
How many times have you asked for a tax return, old brokerage statement, or even a will, but your client can't find it? Now imagine all of the documents that need to be gone through if a family member passes. Compound that with the emotion and turmoil the family is going through at the same time and you can see a problem that needs to be solved.
This book attempts to solve that problem by preparing and keeping a family prepared for a member's death. This book came out of the preparation that Mark Kaizerman and his father did when they learned his father had terminal cancer. The son had his expertise as an accountant and planner. The father knew the location of all paperwork, accounts, and contacts. This systematic preparation by father and son to help their family with the inevitable gave birth to the Beneficiary Directory.
But as Kaizerman points out in chapter two, the preparation itself has positive ramifications far before death. It identifies missing documents, unused assets, and perhaps most importantly, organizes your client. To do this, the Beneficiary Directory is made up of three main tools: The FactFinder Checklist, the Document Key, and the Access List.
The FactFinder Checklist is, well, a checklist. It determines what documents exist and what documents need to be created. The Document Key then clearly identifies the location of all the documents in a way that makes it easy for the survivors to find the paperwork they need. And last, the Access List determines who is allowed to know about and have access to what. Why have an Access List? Because part of the process is to get copies of all important documents as well as the Document Key off site (the examples show it at the financial planner's office). Thus, this Access List lets that "access administrator" know to whom he or she can give what information, and when.
In my memory, this is the thinnest book I have ever reviewed. It's 40 pages of text and many of those are examples and title pages. The reason is that this is a very simple system. While the book is not cheap, you could purchase one or two copies and circulate them among your clients. Packages of separately printed worksheets can be obtained at the author's Web site.
If you have a system you use with your clients to get them organized, you probably don't need this system. On the other hand, if you find yourself shaking your head at your clients' lack of organization, this might just be the system for you. It's certainly worth checking out.
Gary W. Silverman, CFP®, is the owner of a fee-only financial planning and investment advisory firm in Wichita Falls, Texas.
Just Write Books