Are you the one in your household who pays the bills, balances the checkbook, and worries about investments? If your partner relies heavily on you for these tasks, rest assured that this lopsided dynamic is fairly common. It’s not necessarily a bad thing-but you should have a back-up plan.
Think about it: If something were to happen to you, would your partner know how to jump in and take over the household finances? Does he or she know about every single bill you pay or even how to log into your accounts? Consider the following strategies:
Keep good records. Document your assets and liabilities on an annual or semi-annual basis so there is a list of everything. You might want to keep a binder or folder on your computer with information on your different financial areas, such as bank accounts, taxes, mutual funds and insurance.
Put it in writing. The more you can put in writing, the better. Complete an annual assets and liabilities statement, and make lists of insurance coverages, company benefits and location of things such as birth certificates, wills, passports, etc. Document what you have, where it can be found and your account numbers.
Keep it simple. It’s not uncommon to accumulate several IRAs, insurance policies, investment accounts, etc., over the course of your lifetime. If this applies to you, consider simplifying things by working with only one agent/representative, and combine accounts where appropriate.
Get your partner involved. It can be as simple as reviewing the monthly expenses or letting him or her know when you’ve made a shift in your portfolio. Many clients have told us that they find it comforting once their spouse knows more about the finances.
At JBA, we can help you start to have these kinds of conversations with your spouse. We can also be there for your spouse should he or she need help taking over managing the family’s finances in the future. In fact, it may be worth figuring out who that person might be now, whether it’s an advisor you work with, a family member or a lawyer your spouse can trust.