Should Couples Combine Their Finances?

Posted by Creekmur Wealth Advisors on 12:40 PM on June 5, 2018

To consolidate or not: that is the question.

Some couples elect to consolidate their personal finances, while others largely keep their financial lives separate. What choice might suit your household?

The first question is: how do you and your partner view money matters? If you feel it will be best to handle your bills and plan for your goals as a team, then combining your finances may naturally follow.

A team approach has its merits. A joint checking account is one potential first step: a decision representing a commitment to a unified financial life. When you go “all in” on this team approach, most of your incomes go into this joint account, and the money within the account pays all (or nearly all) of your shared or individual bills. This is a simple and clear approach to adopt, especially if your salaries are similar.

You need not merge your finances entirely. That individual checking or savings account you have had all these years? You can retain it – you will want to, for there are some things you will want to spend money on that your spouse or partner will not. Sustaining these accounts is relatively easy: month after month, a set amount can be transferred from the joint account to the older, individual accounts.

A financial plan may focus the two of you on the goal of building wealth. Investment and retirement plan accounts are individual by design, but a plan can serve as a framework to unite your individual efforts.

You may want separate financial accounts. Some couples want to pay household bills 50/50 per partner or spouse, and some partners and spouses agree to pay bills in proportion to their individual earnings. That can also work.

This may have to change over time. Eventually, one spouse or partner may begin to earn much more than the other. Or, maybe only one spouse or partner works for a while. In such circumstances, splitting expenses pro rata may feel unfair to one party. It may also impact decision making – one spouse or partner might think they have more clout in a financial decision than the other.

Even if you staunchly maintain separate finances throughout your relationship, you may still want to have some type of joint account to address basic monthly household costs.

What else might you consider doing financially? Well, one good move might be to consult and retain a qualified financial professional to provide insight and guidance as you invest and save toward your goals.

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Topics: Build Wealth, Uncategorized, Uniting Personal Finances, Wealth Advisor, Financial Planning, Marriage, Money Matters, Newlyweds, Tax Benefits, Team Approach

Including Digital Assets In Your Estate Plan

Posted by Creekmur Wealth Advisors on 11:59 AM on May 29, 2018

What should you know? What should your executor know?

When people think about estate planning, they may think in terms of personal property, real estate, and investments. Digital assets might seem like a lesser concern, perhaps no concern at all. But it is something that many are now considering.1

Your digital assets should not disappear into a void when you die. You can direct that they be transferred, preserved, or destroyed per your instructions. Your digital assets may include information on your phone and computer, content that you uploaded to Facebook, Instagram, or other websites, your intellectual/creative stake in certain digital property, and records stemming from online communications. (That last category includes your emails and text messages.)1

You can control what happens to these things after you are gone. Your executor – the person you appoint to legally distribute or manage the assets of your estate – will be assigned to carry out your wishes in this matter, provided you articulate them.1

In most states, you can legally give your executor the right to access your email and social media accounts. That reflects the widespread adoption by many states of the Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act, which the Uniform Law Commission (ULC) created as a guideline for states to adopt or use as a model for their own legislation. UFADAA was later modified into the Revised Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act (RUFADAA).1

Your executor must contact the custodians of your digital assets. In other words, the websites hosting your accounts. In states without the above laws in place, your executor or other loved ones may have a tough time because, in theory (despite recent legal challenges), the custodians still have outright power to bar access to accounts of deceased users. Yahoo! takes this a step further by abruptly terminating email accounts when a user dies.2,3

The uniform law (UFADAA) established a hierarchy governing digital account access. The instructions you have left online with the account custodian come first. Instructions left in your will rank second. Absent any of that, the custodian’s terms-of-service agreement applies.4

So, in states that have adopted the uniform law, the fate of your digital assets at a website will be governed by that website’s TOS agreement if you die without a will or fail to leave any instructions with the website. If you state your preferences in a will, but also leave instructions with the website, the instructions you leave the website overrule the will.4

Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram have famously declared in their TOS agreements that all content uploaded by the user becomes their property. While claims like these have been scoffed at, the websites are not hesitant to stand by such assertions and may cite user account preferences to back them up – which, in some states, could mean a legal struggle for heirs.2

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Topics: UFADDA, Uncategorized, Wealth Advisor, Digital Assets, Digital Profile, Estate Plan, Estate Planning, Power of Attorney, Privacy Protection

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