Over the years, most couples cobble together some sort of arrangement for sharing financial information that works for them. But beyond the month-to-month bill-paying and budgeting, there are some important documents that are easy to overlook but can affect your long-term finances.
RETIREMENT PLANS: Take the time to fully acquaint each other with your employers' retirement benefits. You need to coordinate them if you hope to retire at approximately the same time. Familiarize yourselves with all pension plans, 401(k) accounts and IRAs. For a complete picture of what you stand to receive in retirement, you should also review each other's Social Security benefits statements (request them by clicking on "Top 10 Services" at www.ssa.gov.
CREDIT CARD DOCUMENTS: You may not care to know the details of each other's credit card accounts. But it's wise to know where to find the account numbers in case one of you loses your wallet in Timbuktu and needs the other to cancel the accounts.
POWER OF ATTORNEY: If you have any assets that you don't own jointly, each of you should have power of attorney for the other, just in case one becomes ill or otherwise unavailable. You can limit a power of attorney to specific functions for a certain period, such as selling stocks or withdrawing money while you are traveling, or you can draw up a broad document that would authorize your partner to handle almost any situation in your absence.
WILLS, TRUSTS AND LIFE INSURANCE: It's especially important to share information about these documents if either of you has been married before. There could be restrictions on how some assets may be used — and beneficiaries left unchanged by mistake.
Make sure your partner knows where to find your will. Your lawyer can keep a copy, and you might want to keep your own copy at home in a fireproof box or safe.