It’s Valentine’s Day. Forget flowers, candy or writing a song for your beloved. Nothing is more romantic than cold hard cash.
I’m not suggesting you slip a fifty into a card with the message “Get yourself something nice.” Rather, I’m urging you to make sure your loved ones know how to access your/their assets should something happen to you.
This may sound morbid to think about on a day when we celebrate love. But making sure your family is taken care of is one of the most loving things you can do.
I’ve heard so many stories of someone passing away unexpectedly and their spouse having no idea how to get their money or even how much they have. That can be incredibly stressful for someone who has just lost their partner and is now unsure whether they have enough money to live on.
Here are three steps to show your partner how much you love them by making sure they will be okay if something happens to you.
Write a Will
If you don’t have a will, get one now. Right now. The document will clearly spell out your wishes and detail exactly who gets what so that there will hopefully be no fighting about it.
I recommend using a lawyer, but there are also cheap software packages, like Quicken or LegalZoom, that can help you.
Put Valuables in a Safe Place
I have heard countless stories of people who stashed cash, gold or other valuables in random places, like behind the walls or buried in the backyard, that no one would ever find. The problem is that the person died and no one ever found the stash. So the money they worked hard for and saved was lost forever (or went to a lucky contractor who found it years later).
If you’re one of those people, take the money out from behind the walls and buy a safe for your house that’s bolted to the floor or a safe deposit box at a bank. Make sure your partner knows how to retrieve the combination for the home safe and is listed on the safe deposit box.
If your spouse is not listed as an owner of the safe deposit box with a signature on file and you pass away, the safe deposit box is sealed until probate is over, which can take months or even years.
If they are on file as a joint owner, they will be able to remove the contents of the safe deposit box after your death.
User IDs and Passwords
If you’re the one who handles all of the finances, you presumably do a lot of it online. Your partner and/or family should know how to log in to your accounts, including those for financial institutions, insurance, utilities, rent/mortgage, rewards, etc.
I wouldn’t keep a list of user IDs and passwords in the same document. Rather, I’d split them up by allocating one document to user IDs and another document to passwords. Don’t name the documents “User IDs” and “Passwords.” Make it something mundane that a hacker wouldn’t be interested in opening, like “Shopping List” and “Packing List.”
My young adult kids understandably hate when we mention this stuff to them. But they also know where to find the information they’ll need, and, importantly, who to call for financial help.
You’ve provided for your family for decades. The ultimate act of love is to continue to do so in their time of grief.
And if you’re the sole caretaker of your family’s finances and you go to your partner and say, “Honey, I’ve taken these three steps to ensure you’re taken care of if something happens to me,” I guarantee it will work better than wine, chocolate, flowers and oysters. 😉