About Death and Incapacitation

It is not something we like to talk about or even think about.

A bunch of us were collecting money for a group gift.

“I’ll send you money soon” one women wrote “my husband is not home and I don’t know the login to my bank account. He takes care of the finances.”

I have no problem with any division of labor in a relationship. If a couple decides that the husband should be on charge of the finances completely, I have no problem with that. Do what work for you. If she wanted to wait till her husband came home to discuss this with him or have him handle the money transfer, then that’s great. What I have a problem with is that if something would have happened to her husband- she would not have had a way to access her money.

(Disclaimer: I am using the terms husband and wife in this post but this obviously applies to any type of relationship you may have and whomever you have who takes care of your finances: whether it’s your boyfriend, girlfriend, husband, wife, significant other, mother, father, great-aunt etc.)

Think for one moment (even though you don’t want to)- what would happen if you husband (or whomever takes care of the finances) would die or be incapacitated for whatever reason. WOULD YOU HAVE ACCESS TO YOUR MONEY? WOULD YOU BE ABLE TO USE YOUR MONEY? Do you know where the money is hidden? What the code to the safe is? Would you know where your money is? Do you have the login info? Do you know how to retrieve the money you need? DO you know how to pay your bills?

For some of you reading this, you may think this is crazy. Of course you know this information- if so-good for you! But you would be surprised by how many people (particularly women) DO NOT have this information or access.

I was talking about this with some friends- one person had an issue with this: what’s the big deal? Just reset the password? Just go to the bank with paperwork and they will give you access. Possibly. Probably. But how long would it take? Do you have access to the email account which is connected to the bank account? Do you have paperwork proving you should have access to the money? Can you wait until Monday at 9 am to do this? Do you have time to wait for the manager to verify your identity?

Chances are, when unfortunately dealing with death or incapacitation this is NOT something you want to deal with.

So…

Know where your money is. Know which accounts you have and with which banks. If for some reason, you have separate accounts or private accounts- perhaps consider having a list of some sort (in a SAFE, SECURE space) that lists these details for the person you wish to have access to your account in the event you are unable to communicate with them.

Make sure your spouse knows that passwords to your bank accounts, email accounts etc. If you can’t trust them with this information than perhaps you should reconsider your relationship.

Designate your spouse as your emergency contact and “additional user?” on your accounts, credit cards etc.
If you have separate credit cards, consider naming your spouse as an additional user who has access the credit card as well.

If you spouse is unwilling to give you this information- you must seriously consider why. Financial abuse is a real thing and help is available if you need it. (Contact https://www.thehotline.org/ if you feel you may be the victim of financial abuse)

Again, this doesn’t mean that you have to take care of your daily finances if that doesn’t work in your relationship. Many couples are very happy with the division of labor that they have chosen. That’s ok. But make sure that you have the KNOWLEDGE and ACCESS that you need in case of an emergency.

Caring about someone means making sure they have the ability to take care of themselves after you are gone as well.

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