A friend of my mine is in the process of building a new home. While we were discussing the construction, he asked me what our monthly NIPSCO bill was. I'm not sure if my stunned silence or the deer in the headlights look answered his question, but he quickly said he would ask Trish.
The truth is I have absolutely no idea how much we pay for heating and electricity. I don't know who our mortgage lender is or how much we pay. I can't tell you who insures my truck or my home or how to contact them if I needed to.
The simple fact is Trish and I have separated the duties. She takes care of the financial things because she's a banker and I can't add. I take care of trash removal, lawn mowing and back yard poop patrol because she tells me too. It probably isn't for everyone, but it works for us.
Although not everyone may be as ignorant about the basic things in life as I am, I suspect that a lot of you that have significant others have separate and assigned duties. Over the years, I've met with couples in which one of them couldn't tell me who their accountant was or name their investment adviser or their insurance agent.
Sometimes information is not shared as thoroughly as it should be. Remember someday your wife may need to talk to the accountant or investment adviser and have no way of getting in touch with them. Or maybe she is going to need to make the mortgage or car payment online and not know the login information.
These issues are compounded after the death of a spouse. There isn't going to be anyone to ask. That's why I think it is a good idea to put relevant information in a file somewhere that your spouse or children can access. The two of you can create a joint list with information the other might need and put it in the safe deposit box or in an encrypted file on your computer.
If your attorney prepared an estate planning portfolio, check to see if it contains a spot for writing down the names of advisers and family members that should be contact in the event there is a problem. When my dad recently passed away, we had a tough time recalling the spelling of my fraternal grandmother's maiden name. I suggested that we contact a family member but we had no idea how to get a hold of my dad's cousins, or at least the ones that we thought could help us out. Just another example of information that should have been shared.
Remember, estate planning is all about putting your affairs in order and being organized is the first and most important step. So share the information with your loved ones.