My husband and I married in our thirties and we have the divide and conquer philosophy on many of the household duties. My friends and colleagues have mentioned divvying up financial and household matters. When Consumer Reports recently cited that only 30% of couples knew the major financial assets and how to access them, I was not surprised.
While I hope we are not as wacky as the family on the TV show Modern Family, to this day, my husband and I still keep our own bank accounts that are jointly titled. We decided to make one the household bill pay account and the other the rainy day savings account.
I am the owner of the bill pay account. When we were first married, I would write checks twice a month. When my career put me on the road, my husband took over the bill-paying duties from “my account.” He immediately set up online bill pay. When my days of travel ended, I took back the bill pay duties. When I first logged in, I didn’t see any of the bill pay accounts. I had wrongly assumed that the bill pay accounts and pending transactions would be available for both online users to our joint checking account. That is not the case; you can only see the bill pay accounts created under your login. I immediately took over my husband’s username and now we both use one login. I’m now on a soapbox recommending this setup to all of my clients.
If either my husband or I were unable to pay the bills, the other could easily step in. Sharing usernames is against both of our banks’ user agreements and if I call for support, they won’t answer my questions because I am not allowed to be in my husband’s account. Silly! I’m not a big rule breaker, but that is one I break all the time.
Now that I am caring for my parents, the online access offered by every company and most state and federal services has been a major time and frustration saver for me. When my parents’ insurance company and the financial institutions that hold several investment accounts refused to accept my durable power of attorney (this is a lot more common than you can imagine and I will cover this next month), my dad worked with me to set up online access so I could act on my parents’ behalf.
Setting up online access to your accounts does not negate the need to have a current will or power of attorney. However, this information will make it infinitely simpler for someone to step in and help if you are unable to manage your accounts, if even only temporarily.
To get your details organized, you can download a free copy of the account and documents checklist, or order the MemoryBanc Register that will prompt you through the process.
I hope you will consider making this change to how you manage your household accounts and bill payments. It’s a kindness your loved ones will appreciate if the information is ever needed.
Chief Curator and Founder, MemoryBanc