Where is It?

Posted on 2/17/2012 9:19:00 AM

 by Ken Bartels, Sr. Vice President


...where is the checkbook anyway?


If your family is like most, one person, husband or wife, handles the finances.  They write the checks, balance the books, make the deposits, work the budget.  Maybe some of that gets shared, but largely the “other” spouse or significant other, isn’t very informed.  There is nothing wrong with that arrangement unless something bad befalls the family finance executive.  Then, things can get troublesome very quickly.
Where is the check book, or check books, anyway?  Did the cell phone bill get paid already?  Do we pay all or just part of the MasterCard bill each month?  Is there a grace period on the mortgage payment?  These, actually, are the easy questions.  There are many quite more difficult.
In cases where the family bookkeeper has died or become incapacitated, the questions get more complex.  Where are the wills?  Do we have a safety deposit box, and if we do, in which bank, and where is the key?  Who is on the signature card?  Is there a living will someplace?  Did we do that power of attorney?  Does our broker even know who I am?  How do I prove that I am entitled to these savings accounts?  How many charge cards do we have?  Is there a contact person for our retirement account?
While there are many people that can help you to answer all these questions…your attorney, banker, broker just to start…keep in mind that your state of mind may be in a bad way when you are trying to answer these concerns.  So, maybe you want to anticipate some of these circumstances and give yourself an assist.
Create a “Family File” and put it somewhere safe in your home…AND tell all your vital family members where it is!  In it put the basic answers to the most basic questions.  No account numbers or social security details, but where are your accounts and who can help with them.  Contact names and numbers, location of important papers, keys, passwords, etc.  This file can really help the “someone” who will be filling in or picking up the pieces.
Remember, the “Family File” doesn’t need to have everything in it.  Think of it as an outline or a map for others to follow and be helpful to you and your family. It could make a big difference.