Brought to you by: Community Partner Bradford & Holliman
Most couples specialize tasks- one may manage investments while the other pays day-to-day bills or one mows the grass and the other does all the laundry. Maybe only one bites the bullet and handles taxes. That’s fine as long as both are well-briefed on each other’s roles. The biggest problem is when a partner becomes incapacitated through injury, illness, or death, and the spouse has no clue how to handle matters. Here are four ways to avoid that crisis.
1. Keep a current net worth statement that contains all accounts, account numbers, passwords, account owners, as well as the funds. Talk through it regularly such as twice a year.
2. Both members of a couple need to know all autopay bills with links, user IDs, passwords, and payment methods. Many spouses are frustrated to find out that important bills such as utilities, medical, car, and house insurances are not paid when their spouses are not “on the job” due to illness or even death. Due to financial scams and identity theft, banks and investment companies are extremely cautious about changes in accounts, so make sure in advance that both of you are set up with decision-making authority and access even if only one of you regularly handles it.
3. You may know your spouse’s favorite foods, color, and TV show, but could you rattle off all of your spouse’s medications, dosages, and why the medicine is needed? Can you quickly put your hands on copies of healthcare power of attorney and healthcare directives? Get it in writing and update them regularly so that a surprise run to the emergency room is less complicated.
4. Some couples swap duties for a month every year, pretending that their spouse is going on an extended trip. Other couples formalize a “show and tell” for each other on a regular schedule. Others discuss short-term financial needs and long-term goals during tax season. Be creative for what works for you and your spouse. The important part is to keep each other in the know. You just may appreciate what your spouse does even more, too.
In the corporate world, this process might be called a contingency plan or a management succession plan, but in a family, it’s just good teamwork. Take care of your spouse and enjoy your marriage!
Partner at Bradford & Holliman
Estate Planning, Trusts & Special Needs
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