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By Jason Stipp | 01-31-2011 05:14 PM

Bring Your Spouse Up to Speed on the Finances

Morningstar's Christine Benz offers tips to ready a non-financially-savvy spouse to take the reins if needed.

Jason Stipp: I'm Jason Stipp for Morningstar. We got a lot of questions during our Retirement Portfolio Week and one of them had to do with preparing a non-financially-savvy spouse to take the reins should you become incapacitated.

Morningstar's Christine Benz has some tips to help with this, and she is joining me today.

Thanks for joining me, Christine.

Christine Benz: Jason, great to be here.

Stipp: So, it would be nice if your spouse was as equally involved in financial decision making as you are; it's often not the case.

But one of the things that you suggest first has to do with the record-keeping and where all the accounts are. A lot of folks have a lot of accounts. How can you make sure that your spouse is ready to take the reins on those accounts should they need to?

Benz: Well Jason, I've always talked about the importance of keeping financial paperwork organized and not saving more than you absolutely need to, and this is one of the reasons why that's so important--because you don't want your spouse to be blindsided and completely unable to navigate if something should happen to you.

So, one document that I always say is essential for this situation is what I call a Master Directory, and simply this is a document where you're going to lay out you major accounts, URLs, passwords, account numbers, and also any key individuals you deal with--so attorneys, bankers, financial advisors, you've got it all in one document that is easily locatable if something should happen to you. So communicate with your spouse that you've got this document and where to find it.

Stipp: Sort of putting everything in one place and streamlining that list of investments. What about the actual investments themselves?

Is there anything that you would do in changing up the portfolio in preparation for such an event?

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