Over the years most couples cobble together some sort of arrangement for sharing financial information. But beyond the everyday bill paying and budgeting, the following important documents are easy to overlook:
Retirement plans. Make sure each of you knows about the other spouse's employer pension plans, 401(k) accounts, IRAs, and Social Security benefit statements.
Credit card documents. Even if each of you has your own credit cards, it pays to know how much you both owe. Keep a record of the account numbers in case you need to cancel the accounts.
Power of attorney. If you have assets that you don't own jointly, each of you should have power of attorney for the other, in case one of you becomes ill or otherwise unable to manage his or her assets.
Wills and trust documents. Your lawyer can keep copies of these documents. But you should have copies of your own in a fireproof box or safe at home or in some other secure location.
Life- and health-insurance polices. If you and your spouse are covered under different health-insurance plans, be familiar with any preadmission hoops that you must jump through in case you have to act on your spouse's behalf.
Business loans. If one of you owns a business or is a partner in a professional firm, you should both know about any personally guaranteed loans. Household assets could be hit if the business can't repay the loan.
Adapted from Kiplinger's Money Smart Women (Kaplan, $15.95), by Janet Bodnar, deputy editor of Kiplinger's Personal Finance magazine. Available at a 40% discount through the Kiplinger store.
"Other books, like Kiplinger's Money Smart Women by Janet Bodnar, avoid the patronizing finger wagging and stick to giving advice that women can really use -- like explaining when you can tap your Roth IRA to help with a down payment on your first house. You'll save so much money, you may decide to treat yourself to a latte. After all, you've earned it." -- Time magazine, April 16, 2007