How Organized Are You Financially? Four Essential Topics Spouses Need to Plan For…..

How Organized Are You Financially?

Four Essential Topics Spouses Need to Plan For…..

What amazes me, as a Financial Planner, is how so many married couples are not in sync financially.

It is not unusual for one spouse to “handle the finances” for the family.  In my work, I generally find that the spouse who does not “handle the finances” has very little knowledge of the household financial situation.  But it is essential that BOTH spouses know what is going on in the financial household and that BOTH have planned for the future in the event of death or divorce.

It’s not a fun topic to discuss, but well worth the conversation. 

So, I am going to ask an interesting question:

If your spouse passed away tomorrow, would you know where all your financial statements are and what you are worth? 

In my experience, I have been surprised by the number of people who answer “no” to this question.

Here are four important areas that both spouses should have an understanding of and know where the corresponding documents are located.

  1. Financial Statements:  this includes brokerage accounts, IRA statements, 401K (403b or 457) statements, bank statements, annuity statements and any other investment statements.  Each spouse should be aware of how their household money is invested and what they are worth.  Why?  Because it is good financial responsibility to know what you have invested, how it is invested and what it is worth.  If either spouse is unsure in this area, it is important for both spouses to sit down and review their investments together.  A good Financial Planner will take the time to review this information and educate both parties in a marriage.  I suggest having all investment statements organized together, either electronically or in a folder and kept in a designated spot.
  2. Life Insurance Policies:  this includes Long Term Care Insurance and Annuity policies as well.  Both people in a marriage should know and understand how much and what kind of insurance they have. If life insurance has not been discussed, it’s a good idea to consult with a Financial Planner to make sure you have the right amount and type of insurance. You can buy permanent or term insurance or a combination of the two.  How much you need will be determined when consulting with your Financial Planner. There have been several changes in the insurance industry due to the current interest rate environment and prolonged life expectancy. Because of this, if you have old insurance policies, it is a good idea to have them reviewed by your Financial Planner.  Old policies may be out of date and may need to be updated with a more current product. It’s a good idea to keep insurance documents in a designated place where both parties can get to them if needed.
  3. Trust documents, Wills and Powers of Attorney:  If you have a Trust, make sure to have an electronic copy and/or a hard copy in a designated place where both of you know where it is.  Trust documents should be reviewed every five to ten years to make sure they are applicable to your situation.  Like Trusts, Wills and Powers of Attorney for Healthcare and Property should be stored electronically and/or on paper in a place where both of you can get to them.  If you have not prepared these documents, talk to an Attorney you trust who can draw these up for you.  This is extremely important!  I have witnessed some awful situations where these documents were not in place when they were needed.
  4. Loans and Credit Card information:  this includes your mortgage, car loans and any other loans. Having all of these items organized in one designated spot helps in the event that one spouse or your beneficiaries need to obtain these records.

Making sure all of your financial documents are organized, up to date, in a designated place and understood by both parties in a marriage makes sense.  As unromantic as it sounds, marriage is a legal agreement and the assets in a marriage are like business assets.  Both husband and wife need to be aware of the finances in a marriage. 

One last note:  be sure your beneficiaries (or your Trustee and Executor of your Trust) know where to find these important document in the unexpected event of death.  This is extremely important so that your loved ones aren’t scrambling to locate these documents at the time of death.

If you would like any tools to help you get organized financially, contact me at



Sharon Case:
Investment advisory services offered through Advisory Alpha LLC, a SEC Registered Investment Advisor.
Case Wealth Management and Financial Services Ltd is independent of Advisory Alpha LLC.


This is a legal advertisement from Sterk Family Law Group. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be construed as such. This article is for informational and educational purposes only.

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