Are You a Spouse Locked out of Accounts?
NEW YORK ( MainStreet) Since I take charge of the finances in my family, my husband has to ask me for the log-in and passwords if he wants to know something. Recently, he marched into my office and announced, "You know, I need to know about all our accounts, bills, assets and their log-ins and passwords in case I need to take care of any or all of these things on any given day. We need to make a list."
I hadn't thought of it, and he is right. If something happened to me, everyone else in the family would be locked out of all of our financial information across many different banks and accounts, a mortgage, college bills, several investment properties with tenants, insurance policies, a corporation and an LLC, not to mention three kids' worth of school, doctor and activity information. In addition, no one would be able to pay any of the bills without the log-ins and passwords now that I've signed up for paperless billing for every single bill. What a scary thought.
Splitting financial responsibilities
According to a 2012 TD Ameritrade and Learnvest Study entitled, "Love and Money in America" six in ten respondents were just like my husband: they trust their partners completely to manage their finances as a couple. In terms of financial responsibilities, only about half said the different financial tasks for their household are joint responsibilities.
Females said they were more likely to tackle groceries, day-to-day expenses and the household budget while male respondents are more often solely responsible for investing decisions, retirement savings and tax returns.
The survey also found 38% were only somewhat, slightly or not at all aware of their significant other's assets or liabilities. That means if something happened to either partner, the other may be at a real loss of information and the power necessary to continue the day-to-day operations of handling the family finances.
Create a master financial access list
"People blow these things off until the problem slaps them in the face," says Kathleen Grace, certified financial planner and managing director at United Capital and author of Prince Not So Charming , a story of women and the importance of financial independence. She says whether you are a spouse, a partner, an adult child or a parent responsible for another adult, you owe it to the others involved in your affairs to share all the financial information to protect your family.
"It would be hard to pick up the family finances without the other who was in charge of it, if you previously had no knowledge of it and nothing to do with it," she said.
Family finance expert and author of The 60-inute Money Workout Ellie Kay agrees.