Louise Oliver

Are you leaving your spouse out of the finances?

A recent survey demonstrated what we already know, that in any relationship there will generally be just one person dealing with the family finances…and if you are reading the money page in Profile magazine you are probably the one!

But although it might be easy for one person to take the lead, you could be leaving your other half at a very bad disadvantage in the future.

You may feel that you are helping your loved one by dealing with the fiscal chores but if you were hit by one of the three Ds – death, divorce or dementia –they could find themselves facing a lot of misery and grief just when they need it the least.

I spend a lot of time getting underneath our clients’ financial affairs and the many different components that form the average family’s approach to wealth.

Family trusts, investments, pension funds, legal issues, chattels and properties both UK and foreign – it’s all part of an increasingly common and complex pattern.

For a bereaved spouse this can be a minefield of information to take in as well as having the ability to reach informed decisions and this is why when I work with a couple it is imperative that I work with both of them.

Admittedly one party is often more interested in the detail than the other but the education process is paramount so that both have a good understanding of what they have, what it means, where it is and overall intentions.

Many people are scared away by figures and spread sheets. This is where visual aids are useful and this is something that I adopt with all clients.

Seeing your assets projected on the SMART board in full colour with pie charts really brings the different components to life and promotes understanding.

As well as educating your partner or spouse in your overall financial affairs it is also imperative to consider the wider family.

It is not unusual for me to have three or even four generations of a family in our board room discussing the overall wealth of the family and how we could best manage it and reduce taxation in the process.

When a family member dies it can be very stressful if the executors of the estate, who are generally family members, did not have a handle on the finances of the deceased and it should be a requirement that the people who will be handling the estate are allowed access to the information prior to their duties being required.

You may be reading this nodding in agreement if you have ever been an executor and not been privy prior to the financial information!

I also think that it should be a paid role. I have worked with executors and attorneys and the time they spend on sorting various matters out is often lengthy.

These roles are a big responsibility and very important, not to be entered into lightly and certainly not without a good understanding what you are committing to.

My advice is to at least make a list of assets and liabilities and keep it safe and somewhere known to the family and executors.

Include plan/policy numbers, if they are investments or products and if you have a financial adviser their contact details would be very useful. Provide the executors with a copy of it now or at least details of where the documents are kept when required.

Planning ahead is paramount and to fail to do so causes confusion and more grief most likely at the worse time possible.

If you have a financial planner they should be able to co-ordinate the financials and work closely with the lawyers and accountants in any of the three D situations!

At Piercefield Oliver we make it a requirement that we correspond with the other professions and in times of change or crisis this is most valuable and allows the family members to get on with what is important – which is not worrying about the finances.

For more information contact Louise Oliver on
louise.oliver@piercefield.co.uk Tel 01246 269400.
Piercefield Oliver is a trading name of Piercefield Asset Management which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.
This article is not intended to provide specific advice to individuals and is generic in nature.