Even though our blog is called Investing for ONE, we recognize that many people are linked to others: spouses, parents, long-time companions. A fact that we all must face is that eventually one member of the pair will be alone.
So, here’s our advanced advice. No need to hurry if you are maintaining your psychological or financial independence, but at some point you both must start to plan for tht next, steep step off of the ladder of life.
Money handling is one of the most sensitive of topics anyone can raise in a partnership. For most middle class people, it is harder to talk about than sex. In IFO’s family, money was a more verbotene topic than sex or religion, but the range of opinions and behavior is wide.
Some people have no trouble at all sharing both money and life. Dave Ramsey thinks all married couples should do that. Others disagree.
At the other end of this spectrum we find this attitude: “We share household expenses, discuss big purchases, and otherwise keep our financial affairs to ourselves.” But when the end is near, you will both recognize that you must deal with the topic, or leave your loved one in the lurch.
When bringing up the topic, be careful and sensitive, but firm. “We must talk about wills, accounts, estates, trusts, and how best to transfer our singular accounts into joint accounts.” For this, in spite of IFO’s abhorrence of “experts,” you will need, at a minimum, a lawyer.
If a large amount is at stake, talk to accountants, investment advisors, stock brokers and … friends. Friends, especially if they are dealing with these decisions themselves, or already have dealt with them, can be invaluable, knowledgeable, loving and neutral advisors with nothing to gain from their relationship with you.
And read. Even in emergencies, one or two books on these topics can be of immense help. If you have faced this dilemma, what books have you found helpful?
As usual, your best approach is to learn as much as you can before making any decisions and don’t treat ANY advice as gospel. The best advice IFO can give is “Please, think for yourselves. Be as open as you can, given the nature of your own relationship. Pray.”