I Wish
I Knew

I Wish I Knew: Understand checkbook basics.

April 15, 2017 by Ellen Abramson

When a life event happens family members may need to access money to pay for daily expenses such as bills, food or medical care. Being able to have an easy way to locate funds for these necessities is very helpful and will reduce stress levels that are already running high. Communicating the following monetary information to your loved ones will give them the power to take care of your finances if you are unable to do so short term, long term or permanently.

  • Checkbook and register locations. Note which is for checking, savings or investment accounts.
  • Extra checks location.
  • Bank statement location- hardcopy vs online. If online, what is the website name, userid and password information.
  • Debit card location and pin number.
  • Primary bank location, phone number and customer service representative if you have an ongoing relationship.
  • Information on how you balance your checkbook. Do you handle it manually, with an electronic spreadsheet or is it balanced automatically online. If electronic please note where the file can be located or any websites, usernames or passwords needed for access.
  • Instructions on how to use or access Quickbooks or other money management programs if applicable. Note any software ownership, subscription or renewal information.
  • Durable Power of Attorney. This is a legal document that gives someone of your choosing the power to act in your place for financial transactions. This means that your designated trusted person will be legally permitted to take care of paying your bills or manage your investments. If you do not have this document created and something happens to you, your family will have to go to court to get the authority to manage your financial affairs. You know what this means, lost time and money.
  • Financial advisor name and contact information.

Review the names that are on the checkbook and who has authority to write checks. Consider putting an additional family member’s name on your checks such as a spouse or child so they can write checks if you are unable to do so. Make sure this person is trustworthy and will not abuse the privilege. Note beneficiaries on your accounts to ensure the money can get passed on to the correct family members. If possible, make sure there is a reserve in the account for the family to access on your behalf.

Don’t let your bills go unpaid or leave your family to stress out over money matters. Provide them with an accessible “everyday money roadmap” that can give them the direction they need to manage your finances. You will all sleep better knowing that this important information has been communicated. If you have hidden any money for a rainy day fund, now would be a good time to let someone know about the location of it!