One day, I received a call from a client whose husband had been hospitalized for a couple of weeks. He had mentioned that he thought a tax payment was due that day. She did not know how to make that payment, or if it needed to be paid. We worked things through, but learned a valuable lesson: she realized she doesn’t know much about the family finances.
Some spouses have been sheltered from many of the household financial responsibilities, mostly because their spouse was better at that, so they took care of things. I once dealt with a widow who, when she was widowed at age 80, had never paid the household bills, and did not even know where to begin.
Do you know what you need to do when it comes to the family’s finances? Does your spouse? Do the children know where things are? It is as simple (and as difficult) as organizing a list and having the discussion.
When it comes to the family finances, consider compiling the following information:
- All of the family’s bank accounts
- Who your family works with for legal matters
- Who your family works with for financial matters
- If a safe deposit box exists, where it is, and what is in it
- If wills and trust documents exist, what they mean and where they are
- What insurance policies (life and disability) exist and where they are
- What to do if someone becomes disabled
- What the retirement options and benefits of the working spouse(s) are
Invest the time and effort to organize this information, and discuss it with your spouse and children. You’ll be glad you did.