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Spouses: Know Your Financials!

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Q: Even before we married, my husband and I agreed that he would handle our financial life. Last month, we moved to a retirement community, and I have gotten a wake-up call. I realize how unprepared I am should my husband not be able to handle our finances. I am hesitating talking to him about my concerns, because I don't want to hurt his ego and fear that he would think I want to take over his job. Should I do so?

A: Absolutely. And, you may get a real surprise. He may be pleased to share his knowledge and realize what a handicap it would be for both of you should he become incapable of taking care of business.

Open up that money talk now! Make a list of your assets and debts. Make sure you know the location of all of your important financial documents. Learn and meet who the contact individuals are, how your assets are being managed and by whom, and what tax factors are in play. Are your wills, trusts, insurance, beneficiaries and other documents current? Also, what cash could be immediately assessed if need be?

Remember life is always in the process of changing. Mark your calendar for an annual financial review and checkup.

Knowing that you are both capable of handling your money will prove to be a winning goal.

Q: We suddenly have become aware of the frequency of grandparents needing to step in financially and personally to take over full responsibity of their grandchildren. This is what happened to our next-door neighbors. Their son- and daughter-in-law were killed in an auto accident.

Their grandchildren are beautiful 7-year-old twin girls.

And as grandparents, they have no choice but to take care of them. They are concerned about whether they have enough energy and money to raise them.

This tragedy makes us wonder what would happen to us in similar circumstances. How frequently are grandparents needed to raise their grandchildren?

A: The number of grandparents needed to help cope with their grandchildren is growing at an alarming rate. A recent study by the University of Chicago reveals that over the last 10 years, nearly 70 percent of grandparents have been needed to step in and help.

Based on what has happened next door, I am sure you have already offered to help if you are able and available. Doing things like picking up prescriptions, letting them know you are there for them, and encouraging them become real pepper-uppers.

Finding time to process paperwork for public assistance, getting spiritual advice and coping with their new lifestyle will continue to be a major challenge.

Fortunately, taking care of grandchildren comes with many benefits and positive experiences. Often, we become closer to our grandchildren and can pass on our family stories and wisdom to them. We also have the opportunity to teach them about what lies ahead for their lives. Sometimes, they teach us some things.

In these kinds of situations, we will never hear from these wonderful grandparents that they don't have anything to do!

Doug Mayberry makes the most of life in a Southern California Retirement community. Contact him at deardoug@msn.com. To find out more about Doug Mayberry and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

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