Although money concerns may put a strain on relationships and conversations about money can be stressful, having family conversations proactively may help. Would you and your partner both know the answers to these questions?
Is there a list of all accounts, investments, and debts?
In case of an emergency, having all this information in one place could save a lot of time and, potentially, legal issues. Determine whether you and your partner will allow each other legal access to these resources and, if so, take the steps necessary to grant them access.
Where are records kept?
Knowing where to locate your partner’s information is key to being able to handle an unanticipated issue without worrying about access to records such as health insurance or emergency savings.
Do you both know the usernames and passwords for shared accounts?
Using online or mobile apps to access financial information on the go can be a great way to get information quickly. If you have shared accounts, make sure you both have the login information.
How are bills paid and expenses tracked?
Staying on top of a balanced budget is fundamental to financial health.
Where are important shared legal documents (like birth certificates, marriage licenses, passports, etc.)?
Proof of identity is necessary in many emergency situations, such as checking into a hospital, as well as in routine activities like applying for a loan. Make sure you know where these documents are and be sure you can access them if needed.
What kinds of arrangements are planned in case of a death?
In planning for old age or for the unexpected, knowing your partner’s end-of-life arrangements may be sobering, but it is necessary. Make sure you know your partner’s wishes, information about life insurance or wills, as well as who your named beneficiaries will be and whether you are anyone else’s beneficiary. (A beneficiary is someone who is eligible to receive something from a specific source, like a will, trust, or life insurance policy.)
Even if one person takes the lead on day-to-day money management, it is important for both of you to be aware of key financial information in case of injury, illness, or incapacity. Schedule time together to talk about finances and find objective, tangible things like accounts and documents to guide conversations about money. It will save one or both of you headaches down the road.