Most of us Oakland County couples have assigned the responsibility of paying bills and dealing with finances to one member of the family. Sometimes it’s the husband, and sometimes it’s the wife, but rarely is it both spouses. While this may seem convenient, it’s not actually a good idea! Why? Because if a marriage is headed for the rocks, only one person in that relationship has any idea what the family’s finances look like.
For most people, discussing their finances is about as exciting as talking about choosing a nursing home for an aging parent. Death, divorce, illness – these aren’t fun topics, we get it. But while uncomfortable conversations are often postponed, avoiding this discussion can result in far worse consequences for both of you in the long run.
Both spouses need to be familiar with the family’s money situation!
So while it’s perfectly normal for one partner in a marriage to deal with most of the family’s budgetary details, it should not stop there. It’s vitally important for both husband and wife to at least have a working knowledge of their finances. This would include assets, bills, savings, retirement plans, and various insurances. Although that’s not a complete list, it’s certainly a good start.
Family law attorneys in the Metro Detroit area spend a lot of time reconstructing family financial information when the need arises. Death, marriage, bankruptcy, divorce, retirement and disability often trigger these types of situations. And remember, these aren’t usually circumstances that come with much of a warning. So families that have planned ahead save considerably on attorney’s fees because their lawyers aren’t spending extra time doing that work. A walk through the hallways of the Oakland County Circuit Court on Telegraph Road will allow you to hear the discussion, arguing and negotiating about family finances.
Knowing what you have, and don’t have, can help in times of crisis…
Knowing what your assets are, and their value, will go a long way towards helping you make informed choices in cases of unplanned changes. A sudden death in the family, a divorce, or even an unexpected terminal diagnosis can all come out of left field. The more prepared you are, the less time you’ll have to spend assembling information under pressure.
One way to get started on the process of financial awareness is to make a list of your assets and your debts. Write down all of your financial accounts, including IRAs and 401 k accounts. Also, make sure that both partners have knowledge of important information, like passwords and the account holder’s names. Record the name of the asset or account, along with the address and account number. Also, record web sites and passwords, and any other relevant information that would allow spouses to access information without the other one.
Be sure to also include your physical assets, like your cars and your house.
This includes any information that may pertain to their ownership, or affect their future value. A copy of the deed is helpful but not critical, since Oakland County keeps them on record forever at the Register of Deeds office. Other assets like airline miles and vacation timeshares should also be noted, since they have financial value but are often not included in financial portfolios.
Join us next time as we continue this discussion on the importance of knowing your family’s finances. It isn’t an exciting topic, we know. But having one more unpleasant task to deal with during a traumatic time in life, is far worse! So as the Boy Scouts say: be prepared! If however, you weren’t prepared and something came at you out of the blue, call The Kronzek Firm Firm at 866 766 5245. Our skilled Oakland County family law attorneys are here to help.