Money Matters and Marriage

As a former family law practitioner, I frequently encountered persons with issues not relating to the two most common areas of divorce and/or child support. Many times, I am called upon to offer advice, and/or direction, on how to obtain critical information that protects the family, and its individual members, in financial matters. The purpose of today’s blog is to discuss some of the common financial issues couples encounter and need assistance addressing.  I will begin with a few basic questions and concerns.

1. Do both parties have easy access to all information on all financial accounts (this includes banking, investment accounts, credit cards, mortgage or auto loans, etc.)?

2. Do you and your spouse have separate bank accounts? If so, do you have a Pay-on-Death, or other type of arrangement, that will facilitate your spouse being able to easily access the funds upon your incapacity or death?

3. If you have any separate banking accounts with debit cards, have you exchanged pin numbers with your spouse in the case of a financial emergency? This is something that you may want to consider, because it comes in handy right after a death, and before you can obtain all the necessary paperwork for the bank to release funds from the account.

4. Do you have any accounts (i.e. credit cards) of which your spouse has no knowledge? If so, do you live in a community property state? Did you include your spouse’s name on the application?

5. Do you have enough life insurance? The amount of insurance you have depends upon your estate planning goals, life style, and personal philosophy on passing along wealth. That being said, if insurance is one of your major estate planning tools, it is crucial that you obtain the correct amount.

The next post will expand upon this current discussion.

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