Could Your Spouse Take Over Your Finances Today?

Could your spouse run your finances today if something happened to you? Would they understand a debt snowball, an envelope budget or budget printables? The tips in the linked post on MoneyManifesto.com will help your spouse figure everything out. They'll know what bills you pay, your investing strategy and any other financial piece of your life that is important.It seems like there is normally a money person in most relationships. Sometimes the other person in the relationship doesn’t want to be involved with their money but it isn’t always that way.

Unfortunately, it is often easier for one person to be in charge of everything related to money. Having only one money person isn’t always a good thing.

What if something happened to you tomorrow and you could no longer manage your finances? You could be stuck in the hospital for a month or worst case you pass away.

What would happen? Would your spouse have any clue what to do with your finances? Or would you end up with late payments and a repossessed car?

Would Our Finances Survive?

I’d like to think that my wife would be able to make our finances work should something happen where I could no longer manage them.

I have a feeling it wouldn’t be easy for her at all. I’m sure it’d be very stressful and that’d probably be the last thing she’d need to worry about at that time.

Luckily there are a few things I do that would make it easier for her to manage our finances. To help your spouse, you can implement these things in your financial life, too.

What should you do to prepare your spouse to take over your finances?

Have A List Of All Of Your Bills And Financial Accounts

At a minimum, you should make a list of all of your bills and financial accounts. For your bills, list what the bill is, when you normally get the statement or bill, when the bill is due and how much the bill normally is. You’ll also want to list where to make the payment, if the payment is automated and where you normally pay the bill from.

This information will help your spouse to make sure they don’t miss any payments on bills should you not be able to help them with your joint finances. For a complete list of tips to make sure you never pay a bill late again, read this post.

Bills aren’t the only problem if you can no longer manage your finances. You’ll need to list all of your other financial accounts, as well, should they need to access them for any reason. Make a list of all of your other financial accounts including bank accounts, investment or brokerage accounts, retirement accounts, insurance policies and any other type of account you may have.

For all of the accounts and bills listed above, it is very useful for your spouse to be able to access your account online. List the website, username and password for each account. Passwords change often, so make sure to keep this list up to date. You probably want to store your usernames and passwords in separate places for security.

Make sure that your spouse is aware of where they can find all of this information should they ever need to access it. Remind them often, because chances are they could easily forget exactly where those papers are when they’re frazzled.

Personally, I have a list of all of our bills and due dates that my wife could access, but I don’t have much else prepared. I clearly have some work to do in this section for my wife to be prepared.

Have Your Bills Automated With Three Months Of Reserves

Another great way to prepare for your spouse to take over your finances is to have your bills on autopilot. Automating your bills can take a lot of worry away in the short term when your spouse should be focusing on other things. So how should you automate and how can you make sure the bills will actually get paid?

First, I’d automate all of your bills to be paid in full every month. Just make sure that you don’t slack off and quit checking your statements. You need to keep checking all of your statements to catch any errors or price increases which happen way too often. Ensure that all of the payments come out as scheduled and you’ll have a bit of peace of mind.

Next, you’ll need to make sure you keep at least a few months worth of your bill payments in the account in which the payments are pulled from. This way your spouse won’t have to worry about transferring money into the right accounts to make sure the payments don’t bounce. You could even stash part of your emergency fund in these accounts.

Your spouse should still know how to check to make sure all of the automated payments actually clear, but that is much less work than scheduling everything for every bill.

Get Your Spouse Involved With Your Finances

The above guidelines will help a spouse who refuses to get involved with your joint finances, but there is a better option that should be employed if at all possible. That option is getting your spouse involved in your finances today so the above work is simply a back up plan.

Ideally, either spouse should be able to step in and run your finances at 100% at any time. In order for that to become a reality, you’ll need to start working with your spouse now.

Whenever you do anything related to your money, stop and ask your spouse to join you. Now you can share each financial tasks with your spouse and help them learn how to take care of them. You’ll need to be really careful to include your spouse in everything related to your finances, even the small stuff you may not even realize counts such as checking your bank balance.

It will take time and a lot of effort, but once your spouse knows everything about how to manage your finances, your family will be in a much better position. Nobody ever expects or hopes for something bad to happen, but accidents do end up happening. Be prepared and make sure your spouse can survive should something happen to you.

Does your spouse know how to run the family finances? Or, if you’re not the money person, do you know how to run your family finances? What is your favorite trick for getting your spouse involved?

Photo by: gareth1953 the original Text added by: Lance Cothern

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About Lance Cothern

Lance Cothern, a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) licensed in the Commonwealth of Virginia, is the founder of Money Manifesto. You can read more about him here or connect with him on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or Pinterest.

Comments

  1. Assuming a difference between daily finance and investing, I would have to show Hubby a few things about daily spending and he would need to show me a few things about investments. Nothing major because we are both very involved. I would just have to let him know what bills are on auto pay and how I record transactions on Quicken. He would need to show me how he records things like dividend and interest payments or sales and acquisitions on his investment data base. Because we have weekly meetings about investments and monthly meetings about budget items, we are both very aware of what is going on in our money life.

    • I think you both would be able to hand off your finances quickly should the need arise. Even if you weren’t around to tell your spouse how, I think he could figure it out based on his knowledge.

  2. This is a great point, Lance. While my wife and I do talk about our finances very often, I’m not sure she would know how to take over the finances should something happen to me. She’s asked for information – like passwords to accounts, a list of things in an easily accessible place….I think I need to put doing those things a little higher on the priority list.

  3. I have our financial spreadsheet setup in such a way that it could theoretically be turned over in the event that I’m not around or able to run things, but it definitely could use some additional work. At this point, my wife would probably have to enlist help to decipher everything, and that’s the layer I’d have to remove, while keeping the level of detail that I like.

  4. I need to spend more time creating documents so my husband could take care of things if something were to happen to me.

  5. This is an important topic to address and an excellent list of things we all should do. Thanks!

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