When Lou died, he left Sally an estate worth more than $2 million. Sally had never been all that interested in the household's finances. Nonetheless, thanks to some simple steps she and Lou took before his death, Sally enjoyed worry-free financial security for the rest of her life, and their children received respectable inheritances.
Some people think managing money is fun. They read the Wall Street Journal every day, track money news on the Internet, know how to create and follow a household budget, and enjoy paying the bills.
Others don't get all that excited when the Dow hits a new high, a favorite stock splits, or all the credit card bills are paid off. They simply don't enjoy money management, and they never will.
It can be a disaster if you are the one who handles all your household's money and financial decisions and you are married to a person who, for whatever reason, has limited knowledge or no interest in such matters.
In short, what will happen to your spouse if something happens to you — if you die or become disabled?1 In such situations, financial mismanagement can lead to loss of assets you have spent a lifetime accumulating and leave your spouse at financial risk.
The good news
Like Sally and Lou, you can structure your estate to protect your spouse and other heirs. Here are some suggestions to get started:
- Make sure your spouse has an estate. The subject goes beyond cash and investments. Don't forget your insurance. For many of us, our life insurance could possibly add hundreds of thousands of dollars to our estates. Recommendations: Keep sending money ahead for retirement. Plus, be sure you own adequate life insurance. This helps ensure that your spouse will have the assets to protect the family if you die.
- Prepare yourself. Start by keeping good and clear records. That way, even if your spouse has difficulty, your advisors will be able to make sense of your files. At the same time, map out your estate plan, and make sure your advisors understand what you want of them if something happens to you.
- Educate and inform your spouse. At the bare minimum, introduce your spouse to your attorney, accountant and other professionals, including your New York Life insurance agent. Explain where documents are located and go over the general concept of your plan. If appropriate, suggest attending financial seminars or mini-classes together. You may also want to recommend paying the bills together each week.
- Build in safeguards. Some spouses embrace the idea of becoming closely involved in financial matters. Others would just as soon have an overview of the process, yet leave the details to professionals. That is why trusts are so popular. They can also help your spouse manage assets. Contact your attorney for more information on trusts.
Protecting your loved ones is a labor of love. This is the reason most of us build estates — to provide for them after we are gone. Take the time to make sure that your plan comes to fruition by taking the steps to prepare your assets and your spouse.
1Products available through one or more carriers not affiliated with New York Life Insurance Company; dependent upon carrier authorization and product availability in your state or locality.
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|Money Management and Your Spouse|