Mar 3, 2010  •  In Personal, Relationships

The Death Folder

The last time my sister came to visit, she asked if she could use J’s laptop to check her email.

“Hold on, I’m almost done with my stuff. Why don’t you use my laptop instead?”

“It’s ok, J’s laptop is right here; I’ll just use this one.”

“Ermm…I don’t know the password to unlock his computer.”

Really?

Obviously my sister thought it weird that I didn’t know my own husband’s computer password.

J and I have always been like this. We do not know each other’s passwords, PINs, social security numbers, account numbers, etc. We do not have a joint bank account. Heck…we don’t even open each others’ mail!

I had a slight problem with this in the earlier stages of our relationship, but it no longer bothers me. We have nothing to hide from each other, and if one person ever needs the other’s information, we just simply ask (and forget).

In an old episode of HIMYM, Marshall and Lily create “death folders” for each other in case one of them dies unexpectedly. Each death folder contains all important account information, passwords, PINs, and instructions. J and I will be making death folders as well, but we have yet to do so out of sheer laziness (we will soon — I promise!).

If you are in a committed relationship, have you created a death folder for your significant other? Or do you just openly share passwords, etc with each other?

Do you think it’s weird — as my sister does — that a husband and wife do not openly share this important information with each other?

23 Responses to “The Death Folder”

  1. Kristin:

    We’re like that, too! I don’t know hubs’ passwords and he doesn’t know mine. Neither of us feel uncomfortable with that, either. Feel free to ignore my question if it’s too personal (I totally understand) but if you don’t have a joint account, how do you guys deal with rent and other joint expenses? I apologize if that question makes you uncomfortable but as a newlywed who’s trying to figure out how to merge our lives together, I’m curious as to how other couples do it. I want to keep separate accts. but the hubs wants a single joint acct so he doesn’t have to think about it.

  2. I don’t think it’s weird at all. I know some of hubby’s passwords and his SSN… I think he knows a few of mine but I know he can’t remember my SSN. lol. That’s an excellent idea on making a folder with all that information in it though. I take care of most of our online accounts so I know the info but hubby doesn’t. If he ever needed it and I wasn’t around to give him passwords and stuff, it could be a bit of a hassle.

    Thanks for the idea!

  3. Geek in Heels:

    @Kristin — since J makes significantly more money than me, he pays for the majority of our bills. I pay for groceries, stuff for the house, dog-related stuff, and non-essentials. However, when we were first married we both had full-time jobs. Back then, he would pay the mortgage and I would pay the rest of the bills. We seriously considered getting a joint account, but we have no problem with our "system" so we didn’t see the need to do so. But if you feel that a joint account would be easier for you, by all means, go for it!

  4. Jessie:

    We don’t konw each other’s passwords either. But, he did suggest that we buy a safe and put our passwords in there just in case things happen (similar concept as a death folder). i don’t think there’s anything wrong with not knowing each other’s passwords.

    Regarding joint account, we have 1, as well as our own personal accounts. every month, all our income goes to the joint account and we get $x monthly transfered to our personal accounts as "allowance". Of course, the joint account $$ will pay for all the joint expenses, pge, water, garbage, joint credit card, mortgage, taxes and car payment. What we spend on with our allowance, the other person can’t have any objection. For example, he can go out and spend all his money on PS3 games and I can go buy 100 purses, we can’t be upset with each other.

    My husband suggested this joint/2personal accounts system before we got married because he said he wants to be able to buy me gifts using his allowances and not have me know it when i check the credit card receipt/statements (yeah.. we don’t open each other’s mail either. unless it’s addressed to both of us). This system works great for us!

  5. As soon as I started reading this I thought, "Lily and Marshall!!" and then scrolled down and saw that you reference them. This is something we need to do too. The other day my fiance asked me what my email address was. Seriously?? We should probably, definitely, immediately write this all down for each other.

  6. I know almost all of his, but doubt he knows many of mine. Not because I haven’t told him, but because he just doesn’t remember. I’m the "house manager" 110% when it comes to our finances and accounts. It works for us, since that finances and budgeting stresses him out while I actually enjoy it. We share a checking account but each have individual credit cards (paid in full each month) for gifts that we don’t want the other person to immediately see. I sometimes open his mail, but never without after asking him first.

    I do worry that if something happened to me, he wouldn’t know where to go for all our info, so I am planning on putting together a folder (both physical and digital) that we both have access to. I’ve also been meaning to get a fire-proof safe to keep our most important papers in at home. I should really get on both of those things and get them done. Just in case!

  7. I guess I think it’s a little strange, because not sharing passwords and other important numbers wouldn’t work for us.
    I handle all the money stuff (because hubby hates too) and we have a joint bank account.
    We know each other’s passwords, but don’t access each other’s stuff unless necessary, but I suppose there are a few things we don’t know.
    I say–whatever works for you, though!

  8. Beth:

    We know each others passwords, and have access to account information, social security numbers, etc. I guess we just don’t see any reason not to? There’s nothing to hide…

  9. The mister and I have a shared google doc with our important info in it. We don’t have it memorized, but it’s there if one of us needs to access something of each other’s. Maybe that isn’t the most secure way to share information, but it’s very convenient.

  10. sandy:

    We share all of our information and all of our money goes into our joint accounts. It works for us. We have a lot of shared goals that we want to reach financially so it helps that we have to be accountable to each other to make sure we are on track to reach our joint goals. It’s kind of interesting b/c when we first got married I made a lot more money (with more student loans), but now my husband makes more than me and it’s likely he will continue to make more than me. Some of our joint goals include sellng our condo, buying a house, and me taking a few years off to have some babies.

    I really couldn’t imagine not knowing how much money my husband had and part of me doesn’t understand how things like going on vacations work – do you start pooling money together for the flights/lodging and then kind of see how it goes during the trip? But I understand that different things work for different couples…I’m sure it’s difficult for a couple with separate accounts to imagine all joint accounts and vice versa.

    I appreciate learning what works for other couples…thanks for starting the conversation with your post!

  11. Kate:

    We know each others’ passwords, and I know his SSN although he can’t seem to ever remember mine. :) We also have a joint bank account; at different points in our marriage we’ve traded off being the chief breadwinner. He handles pretty much all of our financial stuff (bills, etc.) though, which is just fine with me – I hate that stuff and am economically stupid.

    I don’t think it’s a bad thing to have private passwords at all. I am always curious about married couples who don’t combine their bank account – I can see having an individual account for "mad money" or savings in addition to the main joint account, but I wouldn’t want to not have the joint account myself. That being said, I think whatever works, works!

  12. Ali:

    I know Hubs password to his laptop but that’s about it… we don’t have a joint account, except for our car insurance b/c I have USAA and it was significantly cheaper for us both to be on my car insurance. We split all our bills evenly and take turns buying groceries and paying for dinner etc. My older married friends (like the ladies I work with) find this odd, but it’s what works for us, so we do it :)

  13. Jenn:

    I know my husband will laugh at me, but I really like the idea of death folders. Even though we do share passwords, we definitely respect one another’s privacy about certain things. And we do keep separate bank accounts, as well. If something were to happen to him, I would be at a total loss.

    By the way, I love that episode of HIMYM! "Cancel Vogue?!?"

  14. Moll:

    We have a joint account for bills and groceries, but we maintain separate accounts as well. I’m a big believer in honesty with boundaries… While we should be up front and honest about debt and other important issues, it’s also good to maintain your own email and bank accounts. I hate it when couples share an email address or Facebook account… gross. I want to email YOU, not you and your spouse.

  15. Turtle:

    There’s several layers to sharing it seems from the comments here. We share everything financially (he’s the only one making money now) so account info, pins, social security numbers are not necessarily memorized by equally accessible, but for us, it’s important to maintain our independence in other ways– I don’t know his voicemail password on his phone and he doesn’t know mine, email passwords are private and we don’t open each other’s personal mail. I just think that our conversations with my friends/family and things like that that occur via all those things should be respected. that’s just what works for us.

  16. i don’t think it’s weird if it works for you. for me, it would be weird & i wouldn’t be like it much. i think mostly just because i trust him, but i also think there has to be some level of accountability (for me) and knowing his stuff is accessible gives me that security/reassurance.

    that being said – i never check any of his stuff really because i know i have nothing to worry about anyway… *shrugs* but yeah, it’s just nice having it, i guess.

  17. stacey:

    we share almost everything except laptop passwords!! we have joint checking/savings, and a joint credit card for household expenses. then we have personal credit cards for gifts. we’re on super tight grad school budgets so there is no discretionary spending for either one of us, so that’s not a problem. :) we also share SSNs, we sometimes open each other’s mail, but usually not, we don’t look at texts but i wouldn’t have a problem if we did and usually tell him what they were anyways.

    however, we do not share computers. ever. he is staunchly PC, and i am staunchly mac. he will not touch mine, and i will not touch his. we are discussing getting a desktop… we’ll see how that goes. :)

  18. Emily:

    Nope. My parents have separate bank accounts and it works for them just fine. They were joint for many years and my mom hated not being independent. My parents now handle bills the same way you and J do. Mom picks up little stuff and fun stuff (groceries, cat stuff, etc), Dad picks up the big stuff (bills, dinners, etc). For vacations we usually put them on our credit card (points!) and someone pays the first chunk and someone pays the latter chunk.

    That being said, I don’t know ANY of my husband’s bank account info, passwords, etc. I only have his SSN because it’s on my military ID. But we still have separate accounts and are moving towards one joint account with separate. I guess I am the J in the relationship. And I don’t like taking care of everything. It bugs me. I think if it came from "our" account it would make me feel less like man of the house. It stresses me out.

  19. Jessica @ Acting Adult:

    I do find this a bit strange! Most of the married couples I know have shared accounts and don’t keep those things separate. My parents run their marriage this way, as do my in-laws, so it was natural for Husband and I to do the same. I feel like combining accounts makes it feel like one household rather than two adults simply living together. But that’s what great about a grown up – we get to run our lives however we want! If that’s what works for you and yours, then keep at it! But please, definitely make that "death folder" – we recently had issues in our family and it’s so nice to know that kind of information won’t go away with the loved one.

  20. Christine:

    First off, I think what everyone does in their marriage is their own business. Every couple has their own way of making their marriage, finances, etc. work. I respect yours. As for us? We know all of each others’ information and we have joint accounts. My personal belief is keeping things separate has too many meanings (for us). Why would my husband have things to hide from me or vice versa? What secret expenses would I have that I wouldn’t want him to know about? I will not divorce my husband, so I never have to worry about "splitting" the money or assets. We married to join our lives together. My personal opinion of keeping separate accounts is that it is in a way, selfish. "I worked for this money, this is MY money. I’ll pay for X, Y, and Z with it. You pay for A, B, C." That would not work for our household. We both make money, it goes into an account, all of our bills are paid through this account. We both spend money as we please (within reason of course!) and we don’t give each other grief about how much we spend either. Why?

    Long story short, when my husband was just my bf, our pay (both six figures), only varied by about $10K. The difference was I was all about saving money and he had a gambling problem. I paid off his debt, moved to a new place, and took a job that I hate at 1/3 of the pay I was making in NYC. He struggled with his "addiction", moved into my apartment, and the little that I made, I took care of the both of us until he could… get "better". Now that we’re married and have a new home, car, etc. I am still making only a fraction of what he is making, and when I complain, he insists that we make exactly the same. We both give 100% of ourselves to each other and our marriage so the actual $ amount doesn’t matter.

    It’s like measuring who lost the most weight. You don’t measure the # of pounds… you measure the % of body weight lost. We both give 100% even if he is making six figures and I’m making less money than I’ve ever made in my entire life. It’s all the same. He never says this is his because he makes more or pays for it. Just like I never say anything about doing all the chores in the house, all of the cooking, errands, and making sure the bills get paid on time. We’re equals and we have open lines of communication. We don’t hide ourselves or information about ourselves from each other.

    We know each other’s "private" information because it’s important to have full disclosure. I know that doesn’t work for some, but it works for us. And if you’re wondering how we could ever surprise each other, that’s VERY easy. We don’t sit and stare at the bank statement or the credit card statements. We don’t scroll through each others’ emails. We RESPECT each other and most of all, we fully TRUST each other. We lean on each other for SUPPORT and bounce ideas off of each other. We consult with each other when we consider making a large purchase or an important decision. Heck, we even ask each other about the small stuff (Boston leaf lettuce or green leaf? What do you want?)!! I would hate to have to wait until my partner has passed on before I found certain things out. Grief is hard enough to deal with than to deal with surprises.

  21. My husband just finished our death folder, but only because he takes care of the finances so completely (which is a really really good thing for us) that I’d have no idea how to get to our money if he died! He certainly shares everything with me when I ask.

  22. Ashley:

    I know all my husbands passwords and SSN. We even had the bank put our names on our accounts, so in case the other past away. We do not have to go through all the paper work to show we were married and still lived together. Now my husband knows my passwords, but he does not know SSN. I left a booklet of information with his mother, because my husband would not know were to start. He would just stay in bed for a few months. What I am trying to say is that on top of giving your partner information, you should still put their name on your bank, credit card, and medical account, so IF something happens they do not have bring all the paper work with them and argue with companies that you too were together. They are going through a lot just by losing us.

  23. Marlaina:

    My husband and I share everything, passwords, pin numbers, bank accounts, etc. It just seemed the natural thing to do when we got married. I guess it never seemed like a big deal to have separate banking, or email privacy, etc. That being said, I’m a firm believer in “to each their own”. What works for one relationship may not work for others, so if it works for you guys, don’t change it ever. Still, there are things my husband doesn’t know the password to, not because I’ve kept it from him, but because he is too lazy to care :). For instance I pay all the bills each month. Sure it comes from both of our money, but I physically pay the bills. If I died he wouldn’t know when our power bill was due or even how to login online to pay it. So I have been worried about the what ifs, especially now that we have children. If anything happened to me I would expect him to be grieving and taking care of our kids, so I started making a death folder for him, to make things easier. I have included the day of the month that each of our bills is due, the online logins for the bills, and which ones are already set up on automatic payments. I have also included information about our children that he may not really know (teacher’s names, frequency of doctor/dentist appointments, little likes/dislikes that only moms notice, etc.). I honestly think everyone should have a death folder!

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