Helping with Life Changes

By Karen Sharp, Vice President of Wealth Management

With my work in BankChampaign’s Trust Department, some may wonder if I spend most of my days tracking investments on my computer. While that’s part of my job, I also have many other interesting and, some might think, unusual, roles.

One of my favorites is assisting families or individuals when a loved one has passed away. Women in particular need someone to look out for their best interests. For example, according to the National Institute on Retirement Security, widows are twice as likely to end up living at the poverty level after the death of their spouse than their male counterparts.

I take time with grieving family members to make sure they understand what benefits might be available to them, as well as help them process and understand the financial documents they will be required to complete and sign. One mistake can have serious tax implications. With the loss of a loved one, the last thing a family needs is financial heartache and someone talking over their heads.

Along with assisting the spouse with financial stability after the death of his or her loved one, sometimes comes an inheritance for the children, siblings, nieces or nephews. Being named as a beneficiary on an IRA doesn’t mean you have to take the money out all at once, which would have a tax impact. There are a few different options for you as to how you handle an inherited IRA, and it’s important to designate which method you plan to utilize before having the funds transferred to you.

Sometimes there are also physical stock certificates that need to be retitled. Other times, those stock certificates are for companies that no longer exist due to a merger. I enjoy tracking down the name of the current company and the new number of shares which will be retitled. While these tasks are usually handled at my desk, there are occasions were fieldwork is necessary — whether it’s visiting the home of a surviving spouse to assist in going through various financial papers to find insurance documents, stock certificates and investment statements so that person can begin settling the estate, or taking inventory and making arrangements to sell a rare collection that was owned by the deceased spouse.

I can honestly say I enjoy my job and the people I have the opportunity to assist on a daily basis. Please contact me at 217-351-4815 or sharp@bankchampaign.com if I can help you.