My friend’s husband died just over six months ago, and although it was not unexpected, what was unexpected was the state of the finances after he passed. He had handled the finances during the parties’ marriage, and my friend knew little of the parties’ finances. How much do you know about your family’s finances? Do you know who holds your mortgage, if there is a car payment and when it is due? Do you know the passwords to your on-line accounts – are there on-line accounts? Do you know where your important financial records are located?
Now is the time to educate yourself. Look at your tax returns, bank, brokerage and credit card statements, safety deposit boxes, and other important financial documents to get a general understanding of your finances. Talk to your spouse about the bills, and perhaps offer to help.
A great way to consolidate your financial holdings is through mint.com. It’s free, and you can even set up a budget for yourself. You can upload all of your accounts to mint.com, and it will update your accounts every time that you log on. It will also keep track of big purchases and let you know when you are over your budget.
Not only are current financials important, but make sure that your estate planning is done, as well. If it was done a long time ago, take the time to review it with your spouse and/or estate attorney and make any updates that might be needed.
It is important to be aware of your finances in the event that you and your spouse separate and/or divorce. Knowing your state of financial affairs will make a difficult situation easier and help you make the transition into independently managing your personal finances and estate.