Consumer expert Martin Lewis has urged all couples to produce a financial fact sheet.
Speaking on ITV’s the Martin Lewis Money Show, Martin said usually one person in a household takes the lead when it comes to finances, leaving the other vulnerable.
In one case, a woman was left unable to pay the mortgage because she didn’t know where the savings were kept, he explained.
Martin advised couples to sit down and make a list of all the household’s financial information, not including any sensitive details.
The finance expert told ITV viewers: “I can’t tell you the number of times – it’s generally women but not always – have said [to me] I’ve lost my husband and I do not know how to deal with finances.
“And I’ll always remember one case of a woman who stopped me in the street in tears because her husband had died two months before.
“She couldn’t pay the mortgage because she didn’t know where the savings were.
“This is a really important point, it’s what I call the three Ds – death, divorce, dementia.
“They are a risk, and so if you’re the one that looks after the family finances, that’s fine – but make sure there’s a financial fact sheet that lists all the information and all the relevant products.
“And make sure you go to your partner, and say to them this is what will happen.
“Make sure they at least understand it in case they’re not managing it.”
Investment expert Carrianne Coffey suggests following this four-step action plan to ensure you’re both in the financial know:
1. Start with basic details about your investment accounts. Are both your names on bank and investment accounts?
2. Then, get a little more granular. Do you both know account numbers and website usernames/passwords?
Do you both see the monthly statements? Go through the process together, put important information in a safe place. You don’t want to scramble for phone numbers and passwords if tragedy strikes.
3. Beneficiaries: Check them at least annually to ensure the money you’ve saved for years goes to the right people instead of an estranged sibling, deceased parent or ex-spouse (yikes!).
If outdated, any moment of embarrassment to update them together is far better than the alternative.
4. If you have a financial adviser, ensure you’re both included in conversations. This includes regular (at least annual) discussions on investment goals, performance, income needs, life changes, market outlook, and investment portfolio rationale.
If your financial adviser isn’t holding these regular, recurring discussions with you, you should find a new adviser.
If they use industry jargon without explaining or fail to listen to you or your spouse or partner, you should also consider making a change.
A solid relationship with your financial adviser is essential – especially in times of extreme life stress or market volatility. If you plan to hire an adviser, make the decision together. You both deserve world-class service tailored to your needs.