End of Life Transfer

I currently manage the investing for my wife and myself. I’m sort of fading - getting old - so, there is a possibility that my wife will end up with that task - around $2 million - she does not even use a computer, so thinking about options for her is on my mind.

Is her only real option to go with an entity like Edward Jones that charges 1-1.5% AUM but does handle everything - advice and trades? I noticed that Vanguard offers personal client services with a charge of only .30% AUM but it appears that that is only for advice not trading. Is that correct?

Are there any other ways to have someone manage this task at a reasonable cost?


Charles Schwab has an offering called “Intelligent Income” that can manage a lot of it “mechanically” if you set it up in advance for her. Maybe leave directions to consult with a Schwab portfolio review every 2 or 3 years after you pass?

Another important thing is to have a will that immediately gives her access to funds, or else a drawn out probate period will cause a lot of angst; even if it only took 6 months, 6 months to settle your estate and give her access to income from the accounts could be a real stressor on her and other family around her.

1 Like

A couple of points first

How are these $2MM held? Are these dollars in IRAs owned by both you and your spouse? How much of this is in taxable brokerage account? If the latter, is the brokerage account jointly held?

If any $$ are in your IRA and you have named your wife as sole beneficiary, then at your death she can have the balance of your IRA transferred into hers where it will henceforth be treated as hers. If held in a jointly titled taxable brokerage account, at your death the account will then be titled to her. Under these conditions there is no probate and the will does not matter. However, if the $$ are split to separate taxable brokerage accounts held separately by you and your wife, then titling these accounts payable on death to the spouse will also work to keep the assets out of probate.

As to advisory help…

I recommend you go to www.napfa.org and look for a fee only advisor in your area that will take you as a client. They will, by their rules under their membership in the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors, charge either a flat fee for their service or charge you a % of your assets under management, which will almost certainly be less than 1%. I would set this up while alive and go to the semiannual meetings with the advisor to go over not only investments but the assets you hold, how they are titled, the currency of your will and any trust documents, along with questions on such things as Medicare and Social Security, household cash flow need for special expenses such as an expensive vacation, costs of a funeral and so on. NAPFA members must be Certified Financial Planners, who are best trained to assist you.

I would avoid the shopping mall ‘advisors’ and insurance companies, as some/much/most of their revenue will come from selling you or your wife after your death, financial insurance products…a definite conflict of interest.