Financial Independence Planning
Prepare your spouse for financial independence.
In households throughout the world, one spouse is often more financially attuned than the other. To prevent the trouble that arises from the loss of a householdâ€™s financial leader, you need to prepare your partner to manage his or her financial affairs. Here are some guidelines to get you started.
How to locate financial documents
Needless to say, someone should know where things are located. Always keep an updated list outlining where you keep financial documents and other matters. This should be left with a trusted individual, such as your attorney or financial advisor.
Your list should include all financial accounts, account numbers, passwords, institutions and contact information. Include the location of your safe deposit box and its key, and the combination to your home safe.
Include the locations of important papers for annuities, appraisals, birth certificates, cemetery deeds, credit cards, property deeds, marriage certificates, divorce decrees, insurance policies, mortgages, income tax returns, retirement accounts, prenuptial agreements, titles for cars and estate documents, as well as the hiding locations of other items.
What to keep and where
If you have yet to properly store important documents, it is recommended that you do so, following these guidelines.
Bank safe or deposit box
This is where you will want to put car titles, property deeds, business agreements and partnerships, and a detailed home inventory of all valuablesâ€”including pictures, videos and appraisals.
Fire-resistant home safe
In a fire-resistant home safe, keep a copy of your will and trusts, insurance policies, investment account numbers, passwords, original powers of attorney for health care and property (named agents should have copies), and a letter explaining your final wishes.
Home filing system
In your home filing system keep three years of statements for insurance payments, bank accounts, investment and retirement accounts, credit cards, mortgages and tax returns.
At your attorneyâ€™s office, youâ€™ll want signed and witnessed trust documents and copies of powers of attorney.
Who to call, who to trust
Make sure your loved ones know where to find detailed contact information for your accountant, attorney, banker, financial advisor, life insurance and other agents, doctors (if you have children) and veterinarian (if pets need temporary care).
Share financial responsibility now
You can help ensure a smooth transition by introducing your spouse to trusted advisors during your lifetime. You can also get your spouse slowly involved in the familyâ€™s finances in general, eventually bringing him or her completely up to speed. This should bring comfort and reassurance for everyone involved.
Source: © 2012 Morningstar. All rights reserved. Used with permission.