Dear Ms. Mostly
I’ve been married to my lovely husband for 32 years. He has always held an executive position in a large company and has taken care of all our finances since the day we married. My husband has recently become gravely ill, and I realize I don’t know what our financial situation is. I have never paid a bill and I don’t even know where our bank accounts are. I’m at a loss. Please help, I’m lost in financial chaos.
That must be overwhelming for you; I can only imagine. Don’t worry as help is just around the corner.
First, you will need to find all your financial papers. Fingers crossed your husband was super organized and you’ll open his desk drawer at home to find neatly labeled files for all the bills and accounts you need. If not you’ll have to search his briefcase, his computer, his car, and maybe even his desk at the office. Look for bank statements, insurance invoices for house and car(s), mortgage documents, tax returns and invoices, utility bills, and credit card statements. It’s a lot; I’m not going to lie!
Do you know if your husband designated a power of attorney (other than you)? If so, that could save you a lot of time and trouble but you’ll have to find that document first. Maybe it’s in the file labeled “Power of Attorney”. Let’s hope.
Once you have gathered all that together, make an appointment with your bank’s Financial Advisor. You might also want to make an appointment with the accountant or bookkeeper your husband used. Talk to them about your situation and ask for their help. They will be able to identify any other bank accounts, investments, credit cards, and other financial matters that you are responsible for. Where possible transfer everything into your name. If possible, pay off all outstanding credit cards and bills. If you don’t have a credit card in your name, apply for one while you’re at the bank.
Once you have received and activated your own credit card, call each of your husband’s credit cards and cancel them. Follow that up with a handwritten letter directing the banking institution to immediately cancel the credit card. You might have to get a document from your husband’s doctor, stating that he is not capable of managing his own financial affairs.
Complicated financial situations may require you to reach out to a lawyer and/or accountant. They can help you put things in order. Let us know how you do.
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