Considering the time of year this is written, one might expect a financial planning and investment management firm to share virtues of saving and investing. More than likely, most people already know that they should be saving and investing. However, what some may not have considered are the subtle secrets about their personal financial affairs. In fact, if you or your house suffers from this secret, I hope you might consider taking the advice in this blog and making it your New Years resolution.
In many marriages and partnerships, we find that there is one person who is the bill payer and also handles financial matters. In an environment where more and more bills are able to be paid online, we find that there are as many websites and passwords too. As we age, our financial affairs become more complicated, with more account numbers, passwords, and various forms of insurance policies. Thus, our organization and filing system becomes more complicated too. Herein lays the subtle secret: because our financial affairs have become more complicated and the demands for our time and attention have become greater, there is a good chance that a lot of this financial “data” is stored in one’s head. Simply put, there is a good chance that this information is either poorly organized or poorly communicated.
To take this a step further, consider for a moment what happens when the bill-payer passes away and inadvertently did not organize and communicate their financial matters, such as those mentioned above. Now imagine the other spouse trying to find a password, pay a bill, or locate an insurance policy. As you might have figured, it can be extremely challenging. Tragically, we encounter this situation more often than we would like to admit.
Four years ago, I resolved to help my wife by organizing and centrally locating important information like passwords, insurance policies, bills, and our estate plan. For me, the hardest part was knowing where to start. Luckily, I found a really neat organizer called Life.doc and it has been a tremendous help. Essentially, it puts all of our financial matters at our fingertips. During a time of grief and sorrow, the last thing I want for my wife is to have to dig through our filing cabinet and not be able to find something. The process was liberating because I have confidence in knowing she will be able to spend her energy on more important things, such as raising our daughter.
Neal Nolan, CFP(R)