My wife and I had a death happen in the family recently. These occurrences are never overly pleasant for anyone, but this one in particular ended on a very sour note. The person’s spouse found out after death that there really wasn’t anything in the way of a financial plan. The spouse who died had been in charge of taking care of all of the household’s money stuff, and hadn’t really left any indication of how to carry on doing it. Besides this, there was no link to things like life insurance, a will, or anything like that.
My wife and I feel terrible for the surviving spouse – in an already stressful situation, dealing with the death of a spouse, they now have to deal with added financial battles. The entire situation really poked some holes in our current situation – we don’t really have anything set up for if one of us dies. Although this is not a nice thing to think of, after seeing what this relative is going through, this sort of thing has moved to the top of our list of things to do with our finances in the short-term. I’ve made a short list of items we are going to do in the next few months, a pretty morbid list:
Our bills are split up between the two of us – some of them have both of our names on them, like property tax and gas, while others are in one spouse or the other’s names. This really isn’t good for a “backup” situation at all, and should be changed.
We need to add each other as beneficiaries to our RRSPs. This will just make accessing the assets a little bit easier if anything were to happen.
My wife needs a full listing of where all my money is, and how to get at it. I have several accounts that she may or may not have noted when I have told her about them in the past. I find segregating money between accounts to be the easiest way for me to maintain whatever savings plans I am involved with, and therefore have 3 different banks with accounts that I have accumulated over the years.
We need a Will – we do not have one, and probably should have something written down in the event that one or both of us die.
Most of the problems that we have is that our finances are very split up, and have been since we moved in together. We each look after our piece for money stuff, and don’t have to think about the other person’s. For us, this system works, we don’t have to think about half the bills that come into the house every month.
The other reason that we haven’t done any of this stuff, is that we never really think about any of this stuff. Instead of spending the hour or two it would take to get a really organized binder together that would look after all of this stuff, we’d rather watch an episode of “Friends” on Netflix and not think about this kind of thing.
If you or your spouse died, would the survivor be able to easily keep up the “house stuff”?