Even if your spouse hasn’t initiated a discussion about what to do in an emergency, it’s YOUR responsibility to ask.

… or maybe you’re the spouse who doesn’t want to share information because your spouse is too busy running the household.

Stop thinking that way.

Instead, reframe your thoughts. Don’t you want your spouse to have less stress if something should happen to you? Take a look around. How many times have you heard about someone dying unexpectedly. It happens. We just don’t know when our time is up on this earth.

Instead of waiting for a crisis begin by following these easy steps:

1- Make sure your spouse has a list of people to contact in the event of an emergency. This list should include your financial advisor and your estate planning attorney. Even if you prefer not to share financial information with your spouse (usually the case for second marriages), at a minimum, provide this contact list.

2- Update your will this year. Stop putting it off. Make a plan to review it every 3 years or more often if life circumstances change (i.e., divorce, new baby, etc.).

3- Set-up a durable financial power of attorney. You do not have to relinquish all control of your finances but you need someone to access money to pay your bills in the event you and your spouse are unable to do so. Provide for this person a list of your financial accounts and online access.

4- Set-up a durable power of attorney for health care. This document will identify the person or persons you empower to make health care decisions for you in the event you are unable to do so.

5- Sign HIPPA release forms for yourself, your spouse and your unmarried children over 18 years old. In 1996, Congress created the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) to protect the privacy of your health information. Unless you have a signed HIPAA release form, only your spouse can access your health care information.

While we stress about discussing what to do in the event of a crisis, it’s even MORE stressful when you don’t know. Don’t be left in the dark. Begin by discussing the above items with your spouse.

Niv PersaudNiv Persaud, CFP®, CDFA™, CRPC®, is the Founder of Transition Planning & Guidance, LLC. Life is more than money. It’s about living the lifestyle you want and can afford. For that reason, Niv consults with clients on money, life and work. Her approach capitalizes on techniques she learned throughout her career, including as a management consultant, executive recruiter and financial advisor. Her services include spending plan, financial plan, divorce financial review, life strategy and professional progression. Niv actively gives back to her community through her volunteer efforts. She believes in living life to the fullest by cherishing friendships, enjoying the beauty of nature and laughing often — even at herself. Her favorite quote is by Erma Bombeck, “When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left and could say ‘I used everything you gave me’.”