The following post is from Melissa Batai

In the 16 years that my husband and I have been married, I am the one who has done all of the budgeting and bill paying.  I apprise my husband of what’s going on financially, and he does sometimes sit down and listen to me, but managing the money is just not his thing.  He lets me handle it and is glad that he doesn’t have to.

I have my own budgeting system.  I keep our budget on You Need a Budget, and I have a little notebook that has all of our accounts, usernames, and passwords.  The problem is that I’ve used this notebook for at least 5 years, so some accounts have multiple passwords written in it.  I change the passwords and forget to scratch the old ones out of my notebook.  In addition, since the notebook is so old, some pages have fallen out and are stuffed in between pages.  It doesn’t help that I write the info in tiny print haphazardly across the page.  It works for me, but no one else would be able to interpret my chicken scratches.

If I die unexpectedly, my husband would have no idea how to take care of the finances.  I’m not just talking about the bill paying.  He would have no idea what accounts we have, what is due when, or how to get into the accounts.  In a time of grieving, he’d have to struggle with the frustration of trying to unravel the mystery of our finances.

Unfortunately, this situation occurs frequently when the elderly die or become incapacitated.  However, this is not an issue that just affects the elderly.

A family friend’s son died in a car accident at the young age of 36.  His widow did not handle the finances, and she struggled for nearly a year to get the accounts in order.

We don’t like to think about it, but death can come at any time, even the young age of 36.  If you handle the finances for your family, you must take the time to organize your records so your spouse or next of kin can easily access the information needed.

Here is some of the information you may want to consider including:

Where important documents are kept.  You’ll need to have all of your important documents in one location and let your next of kin know where they can find these documents.

Bank accounts & credit cards.  You’ll want to give the webpage, the username you use, the password, and the account number.

Email accounts and passwords.  Much of your financial information may come through email.  Make sure your spouse knows how to get into your email accounts.  If you’re like most people, you have several email accounts.  List them all along with usernames and passwords.

Financial planner’s name and phone number.

Stocks

Income tax returns.  If you use an accountant, make sure you also have the accountant’s name written down as well as how to contact her.

Will

Budget including dates when things are due

Safe deposit box and key

Life insurance

Health insurance

All savings and checking accounts

Thinking about dying is not something most people like to do, but we will all die someday.  If you handle the accounts for your family, take the time to get your records in order.  Doing so is one of the kindest things you can do for them.  If you don’t handle the finances, ask your spouse to do this for you.

If you died, could your next of kin easily access your financials?  What other items would you add to this list?

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