As a trust and financial advisor, it is common for me to hear a spouse say they have no idea about their finances because their partner takes care of that. Such uncertainty will lead to fear and stress if something was to happen to a spouse. What would they do?
My wife would say the same thing as I am responsible for all things financial. When the COVID-19 pandemic became a reality, my wife insisted it was time to develop a financial guide for her. So I began to put one together.
The first part of the guide focuses on our monthly finances – bill payments, access to checking and savings accounts, credit cards. For a number of years, I have used the Quicken software to keep track of our personal bank accounts, credit cards, loans, etc., and to provide reminders to pay monthly bills.
Using Citizens Bank internet banking, I review and reconcile our accounts, keep track of our home budget and prepare reports for our taxes. (Remember, 2019 tax returns now are not due until July 15, 2020.)
My wife was very concerned about making sure our bills were paid. I am an avid user of Citizens Bank’s Bill Pay digital product to pay the bills. Many people go to a biller’s website to make their payments. I recommend Bill Pay as a single location to receive electronic statements and make payments. Payments can be set up as recurring so they are not forgotten. I even make my contribution to our church using Bill Pay. So in just one place, my wife can pay all our bills.
The second part of the guide focuses on insurance – medical, auto and home – plus websites and agents’ contact information. I have also protected the policies in a fireproof safe.
The third part of the guide is retirement accounts, listing all accounts, plus websites, user names and passwords. I also bookmarked each site on our computer so she would have easy access.
The fourth part of the guide relates to estate planning. I detailed our life insurance policies, power of attorneys, and estate plans, with a reminder about documents stored in our joint safe deposit box. While we never like to think about these issues, they are a necessary part of a financial plan. For a family with young children, wills not only determine how our assets are managed but detail who we want charged with caring for our children. These documents must be kept safe and accessible.
Once your guide is done, it should be reviewed and updated at least every six months. If we have learned anything from this pandemic, we need to be prepared to care for our families.
If you are charged with management of the finances in your family, don’t you owe a personal financial guide to those you love?
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G. Gene Crawford II is President of the Trust Division at Citizens Bank in Batesville. He can be reached at 870-698-6371, or by email, email@example.com.