Questions to Ask Your Spouse/Partner

A 2011 study by Fidelity Advisor Solutions found that 70% of new widows leave their financial advisors within a year. If you die or become incapacitated, will your spouse/partner be able to work with your advisor? Will he or she know where your important documents are kept and handle the investment and money management decisions you’re currently making?

Are you the under-involved spouse/partner? Does your spouse/partner handle most of your household finances? Are there some areas that no one manages at all?

To identify how your spouse/partner will manage your finances in the event of your death, first, identify which tasks each of you is currently responsible for. Consider the following:

  • Day-to-day household finances, budgeting and record keeping
  • Goal setting and financial planning
  • Savings and debt repayments
  • Investing and investments
  • Insurance and estate documents
  • Income tax returns, filing and back-up documents

Then ask your spouse/partner:

  • Are you willing and able to continue?
  • Do you want help?
  • What type of help? From me, or should we hire an advisor?
  • Do you want to take a more active role?
  • Do you want me to tell you what I do?
  • Should I prepare a list of what I do and where our documents are?
  • Could you take on the responsibility if I die or become incapacitated?
  • Would you know what needs to be done?
  • Would you want to do things differently?
  • How do you want to proceed?
  • What will change and what will stay the same?

Discuss if your spouse/partner is likely to want or need professional help. If you have one or more professional advisors, ask:

  • Do you trust them?
  • (If not currently doing so) would you be willing to attend meetings with them?
  • Are you comfortable asking them questions?
  • Would you understand their answers?
  • Would you be willing to take their advice?
  • If I were to die or become incapacitated, would you want to meet with them on your own?
  • If I were to die or become incapacitated, would you want to change advisors?

If you don’t currently have a professional advisor or financial planner, ask your spouse/partner:

  • Do you want to get help from a professional?
  • What type of help do you want?
    • Financial and/or retirement planning?
    • Investment management?
    • Income tax preparation?
    • Bookkeeping?

Opening a discussion or developing a plan of action with trusted professionals will put your household on a firm financial foundation, providing peace of mind for both spouses.