• Does your partner really know what is going on with the family finances?
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Does your partner really know what is going on with the family finances?

10 December 2019

David Crossley, CFP® , Business Manager |

We live in a very patriarchal society, where in many instances the man of the house sees himself as responsible for the finances of the family.

I often ask myself “How much does the spouse/partner know about the family finances and does she know whether she will be secure in the event of the death or disability of the man of the house?”

It is my experience that a great many widows, who left the finances to their husbands are completely unprepared when their husband passes away. Suddenly, they have no idea how to pay the utilities, manage the accounts and cope with their finances going forward.

This set me thinking about how involved the spouse/partner is in the financial planning of the household and whether they have any idea as to whether they will be financially secure in the event of the death of a breadwinner.

Financial Planning should be a family affair and it is essential that a spouse/partner, whether they are employed or not, has more than just a working knowledge of the family finances.

Here are some questions that need to be asked by the spouse/partner:

  1. Do you know where your partner’s Will is kept?
  2. Are you privy to the contents of the Will? You should be.
  3. Do you know how much debt your husband/partner has in the way of bonds, motor vehicles and other items? In the event of his untimely death, is there enough cash to settle these debts?
  4. What is the status of your husband’s/Partner’s retirement planning? Will there be enough capital for you both to sustain your lifestyle?
  5. Does your husband/partner have enough disability protection should the unthinkable happen?

If you are unsure about any of the answers to these questions, then now is the time to have some serious conversation with your spouse/partner and remember that this may not necessarily be confined to a husband – it may apply to the wife or other partner as well.

Here are some tips to ensure that financial peace prevails in the family:

  1. Make a joint appointment to see your husband’s/partner’s financial planner and if you do not have a financial planner, then find one by going to the FPI website (www.fpi.co.za) and selecting one of their CFP professionals.
  2. At the appointment, make sure you are both aware of the other’s  financial situation and if needs be what must to be done to improve it.
  3. Make sure that you both write down all your bank account details, access codes etc. as well as putting all relevant insurance, antenuptial and other contracts together in one place that you are both aware off. This will include access codes for phones, Face Book and any other relevant websites that you may both use.
  4. If you have an existing financial planner, make sure that you have all his contact details recorded in this file so that either of you can contact him in an emergency.

This action will go a long way towards giving you both peace of mind in the knowledge of each other’s financial position and will create a real financial partnership and a sense of a shared responsibility in the relationship.

In conclusion, I once watched a movie called the Widow’s Story. In the movie, a wife is informed of the untimely death of her husband in a car accident.

In the trauma of loss and trying to deal with everything and not knowing anything about the family finances, her trauma turns to hatred of her husband for leaving her not knowing what the financial future holds.

Don’t let that be the case with your partnership!

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