8/20/2012 2:15 PM ET|
10 money questions for your mate
8. What would we do if one of us got hurt?
The likelihood of your being disabled may vary based on what you do and your general health, but accident or illness can strike anyone. So even if you're at the peak of physical fitness, walk through what would happen if you couldn't work, and do the same with your partner. Is there money saved to tide you through a short disability? How about disability insurance to cover longer setbacks? Would one of you provide care for the other or would you need to hire help, and where would that money come from?
9. What would happen to me if you died?
Hey, if there's anything more fun to talk about than debt and disability, it's death, right? But talking now could prevent some nightmares later. And I'm not referring just to life insurance. If one of you handles most of the finances, you'll need to share information like where to find important documents and what your passwords are for various financial accounts. For more, read "Don't take passwords to the grave."
If you employ any financial professionals -- planners, tax pros, brokers, insurance agents -- you both should have their names and contact information handy. Better yet, both of you should go to these appointments so each person has a relationship with your helpers and feels comfortable asking questions. A survivor is going to need all the help he or she can get.
Whether you need life insurance should, of course, be part of this discussion. If each of you could get along without the other's income and the services he or she provides to the family, you may not need life insurance. If the survivor would be scrambling to pay the mortgage or pay for child care, though, life insurance is likely to be a smart purchase.
10. How will we care for ourselves when we're old?
These conversations will probably be pretty abstract when you're young and your parents are still healthy. As your parents get more frail, though, you may have to help find solutions for them. That can start you thinking about what you might do. Will you want to try to stay in your home or move to some kind of assisted-living community? How about moving in with one of the kids -- would you want to, and would they have you? Will you have enough saved to pay for nursing home or home health care bills down the road? If not, how do you feel about buying long-term-care insurance that might help you pay some of these bills?
Again, you may not come to an agreement -- or at least an agreement that works with your current financial situation -- the first time you discuss any of these matters. But understanding each other is the key to working out an eventual solution.
"The fact that we feel differently about these things is not an irreconcilable difference," Richards said. "Keep talking."
Liz Weston is the Web's most-read personal-finance writer. She is the author of several books, most recently "The 10 Commandments of Money: Survive and Thrive in the New Economy" (find it on Bing). Weston's award-winning columns appear every Monday and Thursday, exclusively on MSN Money. Join the conversation and send in your financial questions on Liz Weston's Facebook fan page.
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