Financial Contingency Planning for Retirees

Even with modern-day family dynamics, the role of a “financial leader” in a household typically still falls on one person. While most leaders in their pre-retiree years rightly focus on accumulating assets and risk management strategies for protection, a new set of challenges are introduced as one crosses the finish line and enters retirement. These challenges relate to contingency planning and family preparation for those who aren’t in the financial leadership role but may have new responsibilities. Be it illness, unforeseen death, etc.; things happen when we least expect it. If you are the financial leader of your family, ask yourself – are others prepared to take over in your absence? If not, below are some effective ways to set your family up for success:

Organize Important Documents

The first step in developing a strong contingency plan is to get organized. Ensure essential documents, including, but not limited to, estate documents, tax documents, insurance policies, investment account statements, deeds for real estate, etc., can be quickly found and referenced. Depending on your specific situation’s complexity, this process can take some time, so get started as soon as possible!

Consolidate Documents and Investments

After organization, a great next step is to simplify your financial life by consolidating important documents and investable assets in a central location. For documents, I recommend creating a handbook (Physical or Digital) where you can easily access your vital information. Keep in mind these handbooks should be in a safe location to guard against physical damage or cyber threats in the case of a digital handbook. For investable assets, I recommend using a single custodian, or at most two. While custodians like Charles Schwab make it easier than ever to monitor assets through their digital platforms, using more than one custodian creates complications with multiple passwords, tax management issues, and potential confusion around investment strategies.

Educate and Delegate

With the organization and consolidation steps complete, the most critical step in building a solid financial contingency plan remains – the education/delegation step. As the family financial leader, it is your responsibility to ensure those who MUST act in your absence can do so. Having answers to a few questions can go a long way in educating other family members.

For example: 

Where is the family handbook, and how can it be accessed? Who is the custodian of investable assets, and who is a good point of contact? How are bills currently paid?  

My recommendation is to bring those family members into the process to be comfortable with their potential responsibilities. If the responsibilities seem to overwhelm them, then I would recommend engaging a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional for help.


For weekly insights, follow The Welch Group every Tuesday morning on WBRC Fox 6 for the money Tuesday segment.

Fox 6 Talking Points:

Creating Financial Contingency Plans

  • Organize Important Documents
  • Consolidate Documents and Investments
  • Educate and/or Delegate


certified financial planner Marshall Clay wears a gray jacket and white shirt while posing for professional photo in officeMarshall Clay CFP, JD, is a Partner and Senior Advisor at The Welch Group, LLC, which specializes in providing Fee-Only investment management and financial advice to families throughout the United States. Marshall is a graduate of the United States Military Academy in West Point, New York, the Cumberland School of Law in Birmingham, Alabama, and is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™.  In addition, Marshall is a frequent guest on local television stations as an expert on various financial planning matters.


Please remember that past performance may not be indicative of future results. Different types of investments involve varying degrees of risk, and there can be no assurance that the future performance of any specific investment, investment strategy, or product (including the investments and/or investment strategies recommended or undertaken by The Welch Group, LLC -“Welch”), or any non-investment related content, made reference to directly or indirectly in this blog will be profitable, equal any corresponding indicated historical performance level(s), be suitable for your portfolio or individual situation, or prove successful. Due to various factors, including changing market conditions and/or applicable laws, the content may no longer be reflective of current opinions or positions. Moreover, you should not assume that any discussion or information contained in this blog serves as the receipt of, or as a substitute for, personalized investment advice from Welch. Please remember that if you are a Welch client, it remains your responsibility to advise Welch, in writing, if there are any changes in your personal/financial situation or investment objectives for the purpose of reviewing/evaluating/revising our previous recommendations and/or services, or if you would like to impose, add, or to modify any reasonable restrictions to our investment advisory services. To the extent that a reader has any questions regarding the applicability of any specific issue discussed above to his/her individual situation, he/she is encouraged to consult with the professional advisor of his/her choosing. Welch is neither a law firm nor a certified public accounting firm and no portion of the blog content should be construed as legal or accounting advice. A copy of Welch’s current written disclosure Brochure discussing our advisory services and fees is available for review upon request. Please Note: Welch does not make any representations or warranties as to the accuracy, timeliness, suitability, completeness, or relevance of any information prepared by any unaffiliated third party, whether linked to Welch’s web site or blog or incorporated herein, and takes no responsibility for any such content. All such information is provided solely for convenience purposes only and all users thereof should be guided accordingly.