Money talks: have you had a conversation with your other half?
A recent article in the Sunday Times featured a widowed gentleman, who wrote about how, during his 55 year marriage, he really struggled to deal with the financial side of his wife’s death - even though he had always been the one in the partnership who “took care of the money”.
This gentleman, Mr Davies, talks of how his generation grew up with husbands bringing home the paypacket, for the wife to take out what she needed for housekeeping and give the rest back to her husband for “beer and baccy”. When it was Mr Davies’ turn to become a husband, his own marriage varied somewhat, in that he would look after the finances - because, in his words, Mrs Davies was “oblivious” to the world of money. Her parents, like Mr Davies, never owned a house nor had a bank account, so anything seriously financial, Mrs Davies wouldn’t concern herself with it, instead preferring to leave it to her husband.
Whilst the days of weekly cash wages earned by one sole member of the household may be reminiscent of times gone by, there is one major consideration that has followed us all the way to the 21st century. That is, simply, why more people do not take more responsibility towards shared finances?
According to research from Royal London, women living with their partner are more likely to take control of the day-to-day spending (55% of women versus 31% of men). By contrast, male partners are more likely to say that other financial tasks are their responsibility, including car, home and life insurance, pensions, credit cards, savings accounts and mortgages.
But, as Mr Davies points out, what would have happened if he had died first? Mrs Davies didn’t even know her PIN number, never mind manage finances. Plus, there is the headache of understanding all the paperwork and legal documents - as well as things like building societies or pension companies changing their names over the years.
In a way, when Mrs Davies fell ill, it was easy for Mr Davies to take over all the finances, because it was what he had done all his life, but what if the roles had been reversed?
In today’s society, it is really important that both parties in any couple take an interest and understand what would happen if one or the other were incapable of managing finances. Or, what would happen should they become seriously ill and pass away.
As well as making sure both people in a partnership know how to access any paperwork etc., couples should also consider drafting a Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPA), allowing the individual (‘donor’) to nominate another person (‘attorney’) who can legally act on their behalf if they become mentally or physically incapacitated. This will make things much easier to pay bills, or access bank accounts, pensions and savings, which could also provide some much-needed income, as well as save futher heartache.