Don’t Keep Secrets and Don’t Be Left in the Dark

Do you know where your assets are? Many people don’t. So long as there is regular income and some money in the bank, we do not bother to take a complete inventory very often. There are some people who remain completely unaware of their situation, depending on someone else to manage things for them. One-half of a married couple often winds up making the majority of financial decisions – handling investments, taxes and legal matters. If he or she leaves, dies or becomes incapacitated, the partner may be ill-prepared to carry on.

The blow of losing a spouse to divorce, death or incapacity is even more devastating when a person is suddenly faced with a multitude of financial responsibilities and no background or knowledge to handle them. Protect yourself! Find out now about your financial situation. If you are your family’s financial manager, be sure your spouse knows too.


  • Your home or investment real estate – Where is the deed? How is the property titled? What is the value of your home? Who holds the mortgage? Are there liens on your home? How much are your monthly payments? How much are your real estate taxes?
  • Your vehicles – Where are the titles? In whose name is the car registered? Is there a lien? How much are your monthly payments?
  • Bank accounts – In which banks are there accounts? In whose names? What are the interest rates on the accounts? When do CDs come due? Are they held jointly? Payable on death?
  • Stocks and bonds – What type of investments do you own? Where are the certificates? Who is the broker? In whose name are they held? Have your savings bonds matured?
  • Pension & retirement plans – What benefits are available? What money is set aside? What are the present and the future values of
    these accounts? Will the spouse continue to receive pension after the pensioner’s death? Who are the beneficiaries of your IRAs, 401Ks, etc? Are you taking required minimum distributions?
  • Safe deposit box – Do you have one? Where is it? Where is the key? What’s inside?
  • Insurance policies – Who insures your home? Your cars? Your health? Your life? What type of coverage do you have? In what amount? How do you go about filing claims?
  • Income tax records – Know where they are? Who prepares them? Read them before you sign them!
  • Legal documents – Have you signed an Antenuptial Agreement? Have you written a Will or Trust Agreement? Do you have a durable power of attorney for health care or financial purposes? Do you have a Living Will?
  • Credit – What do you owe? To whom? What are the interest rates? What monthly payments are to be made?


Help is often a phone call away. Know the name and phone number of the following:

  • Your attorney
  • Your accountant
  • Your stock broker
  • Your insurance agent
  • Your banker
  • Your medical claims processor
  • Your employer’s personnel administrator

A list of your assets, location of important documents and professional advisors can also be invaluable to your family should you become ill or die.

By Marta Williger, CELA | Williger Legal Group, LLC | Munroe Falls, Ohio |


This article was originally published at
It has been re-posted here with permission from the author.

This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be advertising, solicitation, or legal advice.  This article may not reflect the most recent legal changes.  Individual circumstances vary, and laws differ from state to state.  If you have a question about your specific situation, we recommend that you find a certified elder law attorney in your area.