Be Ready for Money Milestones

Get married. Have kids. Switch jobs. If you must, get divorced. But no matter what, be prepared for all the financial changes that accompany these life events.

We won't delve into all of the minutiae of managing the complex money issues that arise during life's milestone moments. What we will do is provide a four-step nudge that'll lessen the anxiety that accompanies many of the messier times.

As with many things, it's all about being able to find your keys in a pinch. Or, more succinctly: being organized. So write the following to-do list on a Post-it note and breathe easier:

Step 1: Gather ye papers. We know that your honey and your mother can read your mind. But your insurers and the lawyers who are going to handle your estate can't. Fill out the key documents (your will, your brokerage account statements, etc.) to specify your innermost intentions in lawyerspeak.

Step 2: File ye papers. Sure, you keep all the warranties for every electronic item you've ever owned in that gray file in the middle desk drawer. So, of course, your Really Important Papers are assembled in the same painstaking manner. Right?

Step 3: Tell someone where to find the aforementioned papers. If you give your daughter durable power of attorney, make sure she knows that she can find the document in the safety deposit box at your bank. And make sure she knows which branch office and what days they serve free croissants.

Step 4: When life happens, revisit your Really Important Papers. Whether it's adding a significant other to your family or a driver to your insurance policy, make sure you're covered in the eyes of Uncle Sam, Uncle Lenny's Insurance Emporium, and Crazy Uncle Al.

Now, go forth and live. After you tell your sweetheart where to find your medical power of attorney, that is.

Wondering what your Big-Money Picture looks like? Looking for a single place to send your sweetie so he can plug into the family finances? Try TMF Money Advisor free for the next 30 days. Just a half-hour with the financial planning tool and you'll be sleeping more soundly at night. We guarantee it.

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