My Spouse Always Managed Our Finances. What Do I Do?


It is not uncommon for us to meet with a client whose spouse was responsible for paying debts, making investments, arranging for insurance and paying the taxes, but has become incapacitated or passed away.  The well spouse is left to deal with the emotions of losing their partner, whether that is due to incapacitation or death, and has the challenge of learning how to manage the household finances. This often becomes overwhelming to the well spouse.

If you are faced with this problem, you may need help to get through the financial questions.  You may want to gather a support team which could include a qualified attorney, accountant, investment advisor and a trusted friend or family member. The first thing will be to determine income, assets and expenses.  Hopefully, your spouse will have an organized method for paying bills, tracking income, and keeping track of investments.  If that is not the case, you will need to get organized.  One way is to create file folders with headings such as bills, credit card statements, banking, taxes, investment accounts, estate documents and life insurance policies.

Review the checkbook and bank statements to see when bills have been paid.  Take care to pay bills on time so late charges do not accrue.  Payments may include mortgage, credit cards, car loans, utilities, property taxes, and insurance premiums.  You may want to cancel club memberships and monthly magazine subscriptions you no longer need or want.  Explain the situation and you may be able to cancel with no penalty and possibly receive a partial refund.

The best solution to this situation is for a couple to work together before a life changing event.  Make sure both of you meet with the family attorney, investment advisor, accountant, banker and insurance agent.  It is important that both of you have a good relationship with the advisors and that you trust their advice.  Both of you need to be educated on your joint and personal assets, insurance, sources of income, monthly bills, investments and even passwords.  Now is the time for you to be proactive.

JensenBayles, LLP provides a broad spectrum of legal services.  Thomas J. Bayles has been actively providing advice in the areas of trusts, wills, probate and tax planning in the St. George area for over 15 years. Please visit our web site www.jensenbayles.com or call 435-674-9718 and ask for Thomas J. Bayles or Phillip G. Gubler. The information in this article is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be construed as legal advice.