The other day, I was thinking about what to give my wife Susan for Valentine’s Day. The usual things came to mind—flowers, candy, etc. But then a different idea struck me, and the more I thought about it, the more I realized what a caring gift it would be. In fact, it’s one you may need to give to your own spouse. With Valentine’s Day approaching, what better time than the present?
You see, I handle most of our family finances (it’s my job, after all). And one day I thought about how vulnerable Susan would be if anything happened to me. Not that money would be a problem. We’re fortunate to be well covered by investments and insurance. The problem was knowledge. Susan just didn’t have much exposure to our various assets and accounts. She would not necessarily know where much of our wealth was, or how to access it. She would be left to grieve the loss of her husband as she tried to figure these things out, all while bills kept coming in.
Fortunately, I also realized how easy it would be for me to fix the problem. All it cost was the price of a 3-by-5 note card and some time.
On the note card I wrote down the critical information Susan would need to access all of our accounts, insurance policies, online records, etc., in case I passed away or was incapacitated (see image on the right). I suggested she put the card away somewhere safe and easy to find.
Think of the note card as a key to accessing your family’s wealth. Keys are small, so one side of a note card should be plenty. We are talking about high-level, summary information only. I think of it as the top of a pyramid of information about my family’s wealth. It tells you where and how to access the next level down in the pyramid, which will have details about account balances, etc. From there you can access still lower levels with increasingly detailed records of transactions, history and the like.
Would you or your spouse benefit from a note card? Then Valentine’s is the perfect time for it. Since it involves things we don’t like to think about, making a gift of it ensures you won’t put it off indefinitely—maybe until it’s too late. And while a note card may not sound as romantic as a bouquet of roses, it may show a lot more thought and caring. It may be considered one of the most thoughtful and loving things you can do for your spouse and other loved ones.
If you’d like to discuss exactly what your family’s note card should have on it, ask PARTNERSINWEALTH. It’s one of the many ways that we help put you in control of your family’s financial situation, so that you can make better decisions and live a life of gratitude rather than worry. To learn more about us, please contact Jim Waters, CFP®, at 713.964.4028 or firstname.lastname@example.org.