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Federal Employee Financial Planning: The Death of a Federal Retiree (EP53)

In the world of financial planning, the worst time to seek a financial planner is after the death of a spouse. So, in this episode, Michael, John, and Tommy share the importance of having a thoughtful plan in place before the loss occurs. They'll break down why it's crucial to work with planners well-versed in your specific situation, how to secure digital assets, and more.

Listen in for straightforward tips on handling finances when a spouse passes away. You'll learn about the critical documents to have on hand, how to make them accessible to your spouse and/or children, and how to ensure your loved ones understand the next steps to take in the event of your passing.

Listen to the full episode here:

What you will learn:

  • The importance of understanding your finances. (4:00)
  • Why financial planning must be dealt with at a household level. (7:10)
  • How to be proactive rather than reactive. (10:10)
  • The benefit of working with a planner who knows the rules in your state. (15:00)
  • How to ensure your spouse can access all of your necessary documents if you pass away. (18:00)
  • The importance of working with someone who understands your specific situation. (25:00)
  • What benefits you will keep when your spouse passes away. (28:00)
  • Which documents you should have accessible before you pass away. (31:00)
  • The easiest way to educate those in your life about this topic. (36:00)


Ideas worth sharing:

  • “The worst time to be looking for a financial planner is when your spouse has passed away.” - Mason & Associates
  • “The overwhelming majority of surviving spouses fire their financial planner after the first spouse's death, but we don’t see that at Mason & Associates because we are working with the family as a whole.” - Mason & Associates
  • “Financial planning has to be done at a household level.” - Mason & Associates

Resources from this episode:

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Read the Transcript Below:

Congratulations for taking ownership of your financial plan by tuning into the Federal Employee Financial Planning Podcast, hosted by Mason & Associates, financial advisors with over three decades of experience serving you.

Michael Mason: Welcome to the Federal Employee Financial Planning Podcast, hosted by Michael Mason, certified financial planner; John Mason, certified financial planner and Tommy Blackburn, certified financial planner and certified public accountant.

Mason & Associates have over three decades of experience helping federal employees with their financial plans.

John Mason: And we just want to say welcome to all the new listeners, first time listeners of this podcast, welcome to the Federal Employee Financial Planning Podcast.

And those who have been following us now for over a year as we enter year two of the Federal Employee Financial Planning Podcast, thank you for your support. Thank you for subscribing and following our show, it means the world to us.

And now we're starting year two of this and continue to see the momentum building not only in our own clients guys, helping existing clients get over the hurdle to retirement, but seeing new clients, new potential clients, connecting with them across the country, and they're reaching out.

So, if you are new here, two main goals of this Federal Employee Financial Planning Podcast: one, we want to produce excellent content, we want to provide actionable advice, and we really want to help because what we've identified is that one, there's a lack of financial planners out there that specialize. Human resources really isn't in a position to help.

And then from the tax standpoint, most people aren't giving tax advice either and do a cop out. And we have episodes coming where we talk about what is tax advice and how many financial planning firms out there do that cop out that says, “You should consult your tax advisor.” So, that's why we're doing this.

One, we want to just produce that awesome content for you. And then two, we are growing our client base every year, and we are accepting new clients. And the best way to find out if you're a fit for Mason & Associates, if maybe we're going to work well together, do we get along, are we going to be able to add value — is listening to our special episode that's on our homepage,, the new client process and experience.

Check out that episode. If you fit that criteria and you'd like to be a client, you can kickstart that process at or give us a call at 757-223-9898. And this episode, guys, today we're excited, we're recording December 27th.

The title Mike is a little off-putting, but the content we think is going to be very beneficial and it's the death of a federal employee or the death of a retiree. We'll probably talk a little bit about both of those, so a little off-putting in the title, but we believe it's going to be a great show.

Michael Mason: One of our favorite statements over the years, we've done a radio show for 18 years. And you have these common statements that resonate, they say a lot in just a few words, and one of those is you only live, retire, and die one time. We've done it through our clients hundreds of times.

You don't want to be recreating the wheel when somebody's passed away. You don't want to be figuring this out. So, it may be off-putting, but it's timely for me because we've had two people die in the last four months, and the last company or entity to begin paying the claims is federal government, and we don't want you to go through that experience.

John Mason: Well, I know we're going to talk about recent experiences that Mason & Associates has had dealing with Office of Personnel Management, we may even have some crossover into some private sector issues.

But as we think about this, and one may be immediate piece of actionable advice, stereotyping a little bit, guys, there's “always” typically one person in a family or couple relationship that manages the money and the other person who does not.

So, who's making the financial decisions, typically, who's taking the lead on that? And then the spouse who maybe is just a little bit more along for the ride. We can all speak from experience that the last point in time where you want to be looking for a financial planner is when your spouse has passed away.

And we know we've connected with clients over the years for that main reason is, “I'm Joe, I manage all the money. I'm Susie, I manage all the money. I want to make sure my spouse is taken care of should I be the one to pass away first?” That's very important that we're already connected with those people so that when life happens, they're not on a search.

Michael Mason: These podcasts always take a life of their own, no matter how good our notes are. Remember how many folks over the last 18, 20 years, John, the last 10 we've said no to that wanted to become clients because the one that made all the decisions was the one sitting in front of us.

And we said, no, because when this moment in time happens, that other spouse needs to have buy-in, they need to know that Mason & Associates have their back. And anybody that you're seeking financial planning help from, if they don't feel the same way, they're not going to be the same firm when you need them. They're not going to be the answer when you need them most.

John Mason: And there are some client relationships where Susie has a big IRA with us, and Joe doesn't have any money with us, but they're together a client. And it's very important that both Joe and Susie are at those meetings.

A lot of other firms guys, they just would look at Susie and say, “Well, Susie, you're the client,” and they'd ignore the heck out of Joe. Or maybe not even ask Joe to be at those meetings.

Which is one of the reasons, and forgive me for quoting a statistic that I don't know the exact number, but it's like 50, 60, 70%. It's overwhelming majority of surviving spouses fire their financial planner at the first person's death.

Overwhelming, and we don't see that at Mason & Associates. And Tommy, you didn't see it here, you probably didn't see it at your other firm either. But that's because we're working with the family unit, not just looking at Susie's money.

Tommy Blackburn: Well, financial planning has to be done at a household level. We have to look at, as a household, what are our goals? What are we trying to accomplish? And there are too many things that we just can't even while we're alive, look at this separately, we need to be doing this together as a partnership.

But then also, yes, most of our clients, when we have spouses, a husband and a wife, or whatever the situation may be, we are part of that survivor plan. We're not SVP like your federal pension, but we are the, “When I'm gone, I know that Mason & Associates knows the plan. They're going to help pick up the pieces and keep this thing going.” Takes a burden off of you even from that standpoint.

But even while we're alive, I mean, stuff like taxes, like how can we possibly just focus on Joe and not think about what's going on with Sally. I mean, so we have to look at things as a household.

John Mason: I think about, Uncle Kenny, Ken Mason, and the appointments that we've run together over the years.

And Ken's got a funny way of saying things, Mike, and maybe it's not always the way that you, me, and Tommy would say it, but I know in meetings he says something along the lines of, “Why should the plan change just because Joe died?”

And the fact of the matter is Joe or Susie or whoever passing away first was always in the financial plan. One spouse dying before the other should have been incorporated into that financial plan. So, why should the plan change just because Joe's dead? The answer is it shouldn't.

And unfortunately, too many times, we've seen, and maybe — I'm just really taking us off the rails quick. One of our hero stories or clarence moments was that buying survivor benefits from the grave story.

And remember, it was a surviving spouse who came in, showed Ken all these graphs and charts and pretty pictures and wanted to see if Mason & Associates could invest the money.

And Ken said, “Well, stop, I need to be a financial planner. Help me understand what's going on.” That lady would've been so much better off had she already known all of these rules before her spouse passed away.

Michael Mason: Oh, sure. And the graphs and charts came from other financial planners that didn't ask the one question, “Hey, he has an opportunity to buy, you have an opportunity to buy his military time.”

But that pension was long gone by that military time towards the federal time. And let's not see how we can invest the money. How about we buy some survivor benefits with that money?

Guys, the title's Death of a Federal Retiree and to make sure that a plan works, let's talk about a sports team, Tommy, because I'm going to set you up for this one.

A sports team doesn’t arrive, a football team doesn't arrive on the field Sunday and start figuring out how they're going to play the commanders against the giants. They don't figure that out Sunday morning, they've been scheming this all week.

So, what to do at the death of a federal retiree begins while everybody's alive. So, let's talk about the game plan. The more things we can get done on the front end, the better that thing's going to be on the back end. So, let's talk about the front end.

Tommy Blackburn: Right. We want to be proactive, not reactive. If we haven't done anything until the death has occurred, it's almost like triage at that moment of just let's try the best we can. Whereas if we put a thoughtful plan in place ahead of time, a game plan, make this a much smoother and cohesive plan for everybody.

So, some of the things we want to do ahead of time is, well, the first thing is usually let's get a balance sheet together. And on that balance sheet, let's look at how are things owned, how are they titled, and if there's a beneficiary designation on that.

So, things like bank accounts, do we own them jointly or do we have a payable and death designation on them? So, what happens? So, so many things, at least from how assets are going to move, that can and should be controlled outside of probate, outside of the will.

These things, they operate by how they're owned and whether there's a beneficiary on it. So, we want to check our bank accounts, we check our IRAs, our TSPs, our Roth IRAs, all those investment type accounts. Let's check our life insurance while we're at it.

And that includes, particularly for a federal employee. Let's check FEGLI, let's make sure those beneficiary designations have been up to date. I don't know if the government has changed this.

I know the TSP at one point, their beneficiary webpage where you could go to get the form to update the beneficiary would say, “You probably don't even need to do this because we just have our statutory operation, and that's probably what you want.”

And I remember being … I think all of us a little shocked, like I can't believe they're telling people don't make an affirmative election, even if it is their statutory what you think, don't rely on that. Be proactive, make sure your beneficiary designation is what you wanted it to be, not what's going to be dictated by order of operation.

Michael Mason: Let's fill out that beneficiary form. You may be changing the beneficiary from your spouse to your spouse, but at least, you complete it while this is number one on your mind, you keep a copy of it right there in the safe place.

And that makes so much more …. such a quicker response time at death because you know, the surviving spouse knows he or she is the beneficiary. They don't have to wait for somebody to tell them.

Tommy Blackburn: And I don't think we'd have to convince many federal employees that having a copy of that and being able to provide it versus hoping that it was on file somewhere. Most federal employees we work with, I think are pretty good about, “Yeah, I'm going to keep my documentation in place, and I'll be able to provide the form upon request proving that this was my election.” And maybe we can just throw this out there too.

We know federal employee clients who have saved every LES since 1982, because they do not track or believe that the government tracks paperwork as good as they should. And we know how long it takes for retirement to get adjudicated for this very reason.

So, imagine that you were hired in 1984, and you filled out a beneficiary form, but all of a sudden, your current HR doesn't think you have one. And they say, “Just rely on the statutory thing because you're good to go.” Well, how do you know that you haven't submitted one in the past?

How do you know you didn't do one when you switched from DON to Department of Army? How do you know you didn't switch if you changed pay stations?

To me, I don't want to rely on the fact that A, I never did one or that B, the government system is necessarily up to date for the last 30 or 40 years. I want to have a more recent one on file.

And Mike, I know we have another episode, the year before retirement is the other episode that I'm thinking of. And part of our recommendations during that time helps federal employees.

We send them the beneficiary form for FEGLI, for TSP, for FERS, for CSRS, for this very reason. Let's just put it on file right when we're retiring just to make sure it's the most current election.

Michael Mason: And while we're going down the path of things to do on the front end — and this is not the front end of, I just got bad news at 82-years-old, and yeah, I may not be around at 84. As soon as you've retired, you should make the assumption that I might not be here next year, so these things should be in place.

So, we've talked about the bank accounts and the investment accounts, the deed on your house, is it a joint tenant? Do you have a trust? Is it owned by the trust? You want to, at all efforts, make sure something is not passing through your estate, which means it's passing through the will. So, there is a transfer on death deed as well.

Tommy Blackburn: Oh, yeah. So, here in Virginia, there is a TOD deed. Some states don't have it, but so Mason & Associates is located out of Virginia. So, many times we're just by habit going to always say Virginia Law, many states have it.

So, that would be, hopefully, working with an advisor or an estate planner who knows the rules in your particular state. I don't know if North Carolina has a TOD deed. So, some of that can be state specific.

John Mason: I don't think North Carolina does. But I love the episode with Heather Szajda from Virginia Estate & Trust Law, talking about estate planning is a good reference piece, but so many people think of an estate plan as having a will.

And I think as we're talking about preparing for the inevitable, preparing for the death, preparing for maybe a terminal illness, it's not really the will that controls anything.

If you did your job on all of the things that you guys have already touched on, nothing passes through the will. It's beneficiary-directed, it's jointly owned or what have you.

But having that estate plan, maybe we have a durable power of attorney that if Tommy and I are married and I am now incompetent, Tommy needs to be able to manage my TSP for me. And he can't do that without a power of attorney on file. So, so much goes into being proactive guys. And we've touched on so many.

I have one other thought hopefully it's okay to just bring this in too. Understanding the survivor income component. So, not just who's the beneficiary, but like how much money is that surviving spouse going to have. New rules where now, if you're a hundred percent VA disabled, that's survivor income changed.

So, maybe you retired 10 years ago, and you thought survivor income was X. Well, we know that's maybe different now. Military survivor benefit opened season that we'll touch on in a future episode. And then last thing, passwords, let's talk just a quick-

Tommy Blackburn: That's a really good one.

John Mason: So, what am I talking about with passwords?

Tommy Blackburn: So, yeah, there's a couple ways you could go here with it. Where do you keep your passwords? Are you a little bit more, I'll say old school and you still got the Rolodex or your book at home where you're trying to keep track of everything. If that's the case, somebody else needs to know where those are and how to get access to it.

We recommend you use password managers quite a bit, and I'm still a fan of them despite seeing that there's been some security incidents here recently though, it seems like nothing's been compromised, particularly if you update passwords.

But does your family, does your executor, does your trustee know about that password manager? Do they know how to get access to it? Or does your spouse even as simple as if we're not going to get somebody else involved here.

And a cool thing about LastPass, John, you probably know this, the password manager we use quite a bit. There is like an emergency … I forget what they call it, but you can say, somebody else can request access to this. And I have the ability to deny it within a certain amount of time if I want or approve it.

John Mason: So, I know, for our trustee, we’ve given them that saying that, “Hey, something happens, I know all of our passwords are in here. You can go there, and I can't deny it when I'm deceased, you're going to now have access to all my passwords.”

And there's so much to see there, whether it's how to open your surviving spouse's laptop, how to get access to the pictures of your family that is on that deceased person's iPhone, how to get into and TSP and your accounts with Mason & Associates, and there's nothing more frustrating.

Probably, there's more things frustrating, but it's very frustrating to not be able to access the things you need to access at death. So, think about, that's another action item in this episode, is just think about that legacy and that ease of use, and just making sure that you're secure across the board.

Michael Mason: So, I'm going to kind of wrap up the things we want to try and do on the front end, absolutely do on the front end. Then we'll go to documents that you want to have saved, readily accessible.

But John, there's many times that we've run across folks that retired before we met them, and they turned down survivor benefits. And then we say, “Well, have you changed your beneficiary for your CSRS or your FERS?” And they're like, “Well, why would I need to do that if I don't have survivor benefits?”

Well, it's very interesting. The beneficiary of CSRS and FERS is who's going to get that last paycheck? It may be 15 days in August. Unlike social security, your CSRS and FERS will pay a pro rata death benefit. So, let's do the two: social security, both of them are in arrears.

Social security says you need to live all of August to get your paycheck in September. CSRS and FERS says, “Your paycheck in September will be however many days in August that you live.

So, social security, you have to live the entire month for the next check to be good. Under the federal programs, you're going to get a check for a portion of a month. So, make sure you have completed a beneficiary for your CSRS and your FERS.

And then following that, if you're a client of Mason & Associates, it's 99% certain that you have survivor benefits. Confirm if you're the spouse of the federal employee that you do indeed have survivor benefits. Make that note, hold onto that civil service account number for your spouse. And you can cut the time OPM spends after your spouse's death.

And before you get your first survivor benefit check, you can cut it in half or better because you know you're the beneficiary and you know you can complete the forms before the federal government ever sends them out to you.”

John Mason: Well, Mike, you said so much there. And I really want to make sure that for our audience and maybe even for Tommy and my benefit too, is when you say cut it in half, why do you mean that? What are we cutting in half and what's the delay?

And you've had two clients pass away in the last month, unfortunately, I think it makes sense for you to share your experience and your frustration not only with us, but with our audience. So, what does cut it in half even mean?

Michael Mason: And truth in advertising I guess is the terminology we use. I've done this 35 years and in the last six months, I've learned just another wrinkle in the federal government. That's why we say you only live, retire and die one time. You’re not going to live long enough or die enough times to figure all this out like we have.

So, here's what we learned years ago. When you would notify OPM of a person's death (and anybody can do this), you're going to need their CSA number, civil service account number.

As soon as one of our clients dies and we know it, we take the step of notifying the federal government. You don't need the website, just google OPM, Office of Personnel Management, OPM reported death — takes you right to the website.

From the time you report that death, if you do nothing, it will take the federal government a minimum of eight weeks to send you claim forms.

So, years ago, John, we figured, “Hey, I know that client had federal employees group life insurance, and I know the spouse is a beneficiary. I'm not going to wait eight weeks for Uncle Sam to send me a MetLife, which is federal employees group life claim form. I'm going to get on top of it because I know they deserve this and they're going to get it.”

So, we'd send that in with a death certificate. And before the federal government almost even acknowledged that the person's passed away, a check from MetLife is coming their way.

John Mason: And we know that because we've done this time and time again, unfortunately, we've seen it happen. I think it's FE-6 is the beneficiary claim form. And one negative that I know we've experienced in the past, Mike, is I believe the government still color codes envelopes, and in these claim forms so that they get sent to the right place.

So, I'll make this up at first survivor benefits is pink and FEGLI, FE-6 is blue. And sometimes those things help stand out. So, one of the risks of sending in your own form could be it doesn't look like the packet that's being sent out standard by OPM.

So, you run the risk of wait 8 to 12 weeks for them to even acknowledge it and send you the initial process or send in the form the day after and cross your fingers that it didn't get lost in the mail.

Michael Mason: And the important part, that's why we went in the early, know today who the beneficiary is — because the mistake we made is we thought the husband was a beneficiary and we'd made the trust a beneficiary.

So, we complete the life insurance form as the husband, and we have to recomplete it as trust. Believe me, it still went faster than waiting for OPM to send out the package.

The second thing, and that's maybe the biggest is the survivor annuity. In this one, I was so frustrated in these two because these people are depending on that survivor annuity check, and both of them died one mid-August, the other mid-September. And OPM still hasn't sent out the claim forms.

And after calling five times, they tell me, “Why don't you just download Form 2800” and that's the standard form 2800 for CSRS if you know the beneficiary. So, this is a learning experience for me. I knew one of them, the living spouse is the beneficiary. I could have completed that four months ago for them. And we're still waiting for the form to get here.

It gets more difficult with the second one, John and Tommy, because now, we've got a split survivor annuity, we've got a divorce situation, they've got to go to legal, they've got to find the divorce decree. So, that's much easier to wait for that form to come out because they've done all that research.

But if it's clean and you know the surviving spouse is the survivor annuitant and the beneficiary of FEGLI, just complete the forms, and it's right there at OPM, report a death, and you'll get the forms that you need to complete for both FEGLI and Survivor Annuity.

Tommy Blackburn: And what I'm really hearing there too is also the benefit of having an advisor, yet again in your corner, one who specializes with federal employees, who knows the system and is still running into issues and learning about new wrinkles along the way.

But I'm just sitting here listening to it, what would it be like for somebody who doesn't do this every day trying to navigate this system? And I also don't know many advisors that would even go through the length that our firm goes through in that example to try to help get these benefits in place.

Because most people are, “Hey, it's the accounts I manage, I'll take care of those. And outside of that, like you're on your own.” But you know the system. So, you're stepping in, you're trying to help.

And if we've done our diligence on the front end, we've confirmed those beneficiaries to your point, we can cut out a lot of time here and be more efficient with things. So, that was at least a takeaway I just heard listening to your story.

John Mason: Well, maybe, we can talk a little bit Tommy, about this just popped into my head. So, the death of a federal retiree, and I'm thinking about my grandpa who was a death of a federal retiree, he is that person. He passed away a few years ago.

What happens when a federal employee dies as far as like their ability to get certain benefits or family members' ability to get certain benefits?

And I know this has changed with (and I'll kind of just say it out loud) the long-term care suspension of enrollment. But let's talk through a little bit on how that worked as of three or four weeks ago and how it works now.

Tommy Blackburn: So, on the long-term care, there’s a lot of movement and things changing inside of that program right now. We know that we're in a blackout period that thinks a year or two potential there.

So, we don’t know how it would work necessarily now because they're not accepting new applications. But previously, when the person who had the entitlement, so your grandfather for example, make it an easy track to follow — when he passed, everybody else who used to be eligible is no longer eligible. Because he's no longer surviving, they can't base it off of him anymore.

The same being that if we didn't have a survivor on his annuity, so they're no longer going to be able to apply for his benefits. They're no longer going to draw a check. And in additional, they would've lost their FEHB.

So, there's a number of things there that are tied to have we gotten things while we can while we're alive, like the long-term care insurance? And also, FEHB is probably one of the best benefits.

We've put this in an episode before, like your second-best benefit probably that you earn as a federal retiree, you want to make sure that survives you most likely. So, we do that through making sure we have survivor benefits on that pension.

John Mason: Often overlooked rules. If you decline survivor benefits and you predecease your non-Federal employee spouse, FEHB is a goner. And that is an absolute game changer.

And I think another take away from this podcast is understand what benefits you will keep and what benefits you will lose when that federal employee retiree passes away, what benefits will you keep? What benefits will you lose?

Michael Mason: And one of those in reference to the long-term care options, I bought federal long-term care wouldn't have otherwise qualified other than dad being a federal retiree. And had I waited until he passed away, then I would've lost that opportunity too.

But to be clear, guys, if husband and wife, couple both have federal long-term care and the federal employee dies, the spouse keeps that federal long-term care a good point in health insurance, we just don't let our clients not take some form of survivor benefit to keep their spouse in health insurance.

But at the death of the federal retiree, the non-federal spouse that is still entitled can't make any changes at that point. And sometimes, they'll get behind four or five months in premium payments because it takes the government that long to settle the claim.

Just understand that the government will communicate to your carrier, and you won't go without coverage. They'll make up the premiums you'll be taken care of. So, I just want to make sure that that's clear.

Guys, as we wrap it up, let's make sure that we've done a good job. Many documents we should have handy. Handy, I say in our house, because most of these documents that we want you to have handy are copies, they're not original.

So, let's talk about as we close this episode down, the documents that should be handy, ready for the people that you've put in charge to take over.

John Mason: And when we say that, I'll just also add not only the trustees or the executors, your family members, the people that should have these, your financial planner too.

And if your financial planner is not asking for some of these documents, then maybe that's a question as to how in depth or how comprehensive or how well-positioned that person or that firm is to helping you.

So, I guess we'll go first with estate planning documents. Typically, these include everything from a rev trust to a will, to powers of attorney, medical directives. These documents, many financial planning firms have electronic portals that they'll store your stuff.

Some can give you access to an electronic portal. You can have a OneDrive or a Google Drive. We're not advocating any of these but figure out how you can have these accessible not only for you and your spouse, but for those people that you trust.

Those people that will be called upon at the worst possible time, where are we going to get these documents so that we know how to help?

Tommy Blackburn: And then some other ones, maybe not necessarily estate planning documents per se, but still good ones to have that are going to come up was marriage certificate. I don’t know if we mentioned that one.

So, we want those estate planning documents, but the marriage certificate, if we have a divorce decree or anything like that, that's going to need to also be submitted. So, those are some ones.

And Mike mentioned earlier, I think in the episode, the CSA number, your account number with the government-

John Mason: Passwords, passwords, passwords.

Michael Mason: Uncle Sam doesn't care what your social security number is, and I say that tongue in cheek guys. But it starts with that civil service account number. You can find it, it's always there.

You get notice of annuity adjustment every year. It's on that notice of annuity adjustment. And on the bottom of that also, shows what the survivor annuity's going to be. So, have that copy of the marriage certificate.

Your deceased federal spouse passes away, the claim forms going to want a copy of that marriage certificate, you might as well have it. They're going to ask about previous marriages, and when those ended, that's the divorce decree. So, you might as well have it on hand … investment accounts, life insurance.

Why send your heirs, your executor, your trustee on a treasure hunt in our financial plans if you've told us about it, we've documented it. And we can print one page, these are the assets, these are the beneficiaries, let's go get these things claimed.

John Mason: So, Mike, you said a lot of great stuff and I love the beneficiary section in Bright Capital that kind of serves as a balance sheet. Here are your assets and here's who we believe are primary and contingent beneficiaries.

And so, we're able to show our clients and produce those reports after our strategic planning meetings to say, “Here's where all the assets are. Don't forget we put $60,000 in Series I savings bonds that you're going to need a login for to see those.” We want to make sure we're capturing all the assets.

And then also, the beneficiary page, which I think are both very valuable reports that we include post-meeting with our folks. These forms are available now. Google, FE-6, google Standard form 2800.

And maybe what we'll even do is maybe we can post some additional forms in the description here. There's no reason not to go ahead and look at these forms now, and you could pre-complete these forms. Don't put your date of death in there, that'd be a little scary.

But these folks, they could download these forms, version whatever today, see what data's required, kind of pre-populate it, do the heavy lifting today, and stick it in that family break in case of emergency binder so that when that day comes, we kind of have that blueprint already.

Michael Mason: What's most important about this segment for me, guys, and I'm 61-years-old and been doing this come March of 2023, 36 years. Our clients become our family, and anytime you lose family members, you grieve.

But at the same time, when we can provide the kind of service we provide, when I can go up to that surviving spouse and say, “Now is the time to grieve, not worry, because we've done everything in advance …” as you said it earlier, life shouldn't change. Other than that person not being here, financial life shouldn't change just because one of you has died.

We've planned for it. You take care of the grieving part, we'll take care of the rest.

Tommy Blackburn: I 100% agree with you, Mike. I've had a recent experience with a client as well. And I guess it's a plug for having a good advisor in your life. But it's so nice to be able to pull that balance sheet up, see the beneficiaries, everything outside of us.

We can guide the executor and the beneficiaries on, “Here's what we need to get done, here's how it's going to work from a tax standpoint. Here's how it's now going to work to your individual plans as we move assets around,” when we're ready to start having those conversations.

But it's just, you can see the peace of mind of … we see it all, we know how to advise you on all of this. Take a moment, grieve, and we're going to do all as much of the heavy lifting as we can and to be efficient. And we're already planning for things.

But yeah, you have a trusted resource here. We got the picture, we know how it's going to go from here, and we're here to help you. So, you just take your time and go through that grieving process.

Michael Mason: And John, before I close us down, let me just make this statement, which just hit me. I don't know exactly when this episode will be released, but if you're listening to this episode, this may be the easiest way. You may be an executor, be named the executor, but then mom and dad are keeping you in the dark as to what's going on — send them a link to this.

They don't have to be federal employees. It's all similar stuff regardless of where you are. If you don't educate the people that are to implement the plan, how can they possibly implement it?

So, send this link. If you know a retired federal couple 65 plus, send them the link. If you've been named the executor of an estate, but mom and dad or the person that named you is not sharing the information, send them a copy of the link. You can't help if you don't know.

John Mason: Can't help if you don't know. And recently, I've been working with a surviving spouse whose spouse died, active employment, non-federal, and many of these same things apply.

We've been working for six months to get the survivor annuity started. Things like life insurance, survivor benefits, health insurance, all of these things really difficult to navigate.

And although we primarily conduct our appointments virtually, guys, it's been really great to see this man be able to come into the office, be able to offer him that support, help him just read forms right now.

I think so much time we overlook the value that we provide, which is, today we helped send in a pension election form. And it was exactly like we said, but we just read it together and it felt better doing it together than it would've been him having to do that and read it on his own.

So, we are able to provide tremendous value. And I'll just echo Mike, to your point that I hope any federal employee listening to this, or anybody who's listening to this podcast, this could go out to everybody. This could go out to anybody who is 60, 65, 70. Start thinking about what this means for your family, start planning accordingly.

This has been another episode of the Federal Employee Financial Planning Podcast, big thank you to both of my co-hosts. Guys we're excited, we're recording this December 27th. Going into a brand-new year 2023 is exciting.

So, thank you both for an awesome, awesome year of recording. Thank you to our audience, both the returning listeners who have supported us all year to as well as the new listeners who joined us today on this episode.

I think it's important for folks to know we're not sponsored. So, we don't receive any ad revenue, we're not receiving any sponsorship. We're doing this because we hope to educate and empower you to make very, very good decisions for you and your financial plan.

And we're also hoping that we'll get some new clients. And if you're a good fit and you'd like to start the process with us, we can kickstart that at or 223-9898.

Historically, we've been releasing two episodes per month. We're going to continue that cadence, but make sure you follow us. Make sure you subscribe, check out the Federal Employee Financial Planning Podcast, because we're going to be releasing more new content probably this year than we did last year.

So, make sure you follow, that way you're receiving updates and notifications when we release it. We love your five-star ratings, thank you. But what we'd love even more going forward is some comments.

We want to hear from you. We want to hear from the audience, what are you concerned about? What are your fears? What are your concerns, what are your questions?

And you can drop those in the comments. You can comment on any major platform or send us an email to

Get in touch with us. We'd love to hear from you. Until next time, this is the Federal Employee Financial Planning Podcast.

The topics discussed on this podcast represent our best understanding of federal benefits and are for informational and educational purposes only, and should not be construed as investment, financial planning, or other professional advice.

We encourage you to consult with the office of personnel management and one or more professional advisors before taking any action based on the information presented.