5 Financial questions to ask your partner

These may not be the most romantic questions to ask your partner but they may prevent tensions and troubles from arising later on in your relationship. If you’re planning on staying together for the long term, it’s important to have an honest and open discussion about your finances.

Below are Moneybags’ five key financial questions to ask your partner:

1. What are your money values and goals?

What is your partner’s attitude towards money, and where do they see themself financially in 10 years’ time? If you understand your partner’s financial goals, you’ll have a better sense of whether you are financially compatible.

If you have similar goals, you could create a financial plan together and work towards reaching them. If your partner has different goals to you, you need to decide how to support them in their decisions, or work out how to reach your own goals separately.

2. Are you in debt?

It’s vital that you are aware of any money your partner needs to repay, as you could be liable for their debt too, especially if you are or are going to get married in community of property. Should your partner be in a lot of debt, you need to question whether you are able to cover joint financial commitments on your own without falling into debt yourself. See our simple debt guide for more information on managing and repaying your debts effectively.

3. Do you have a pension plan?

It’s important to save for retirement and therefore it’s vital to find out if your partner has retirement savings, as you wouldn’t want to be left with any nasty surprises later on in life. According to the National Treasury only 10% of South Africans are able to maintain their pre-retirement level of consumption after they stop working. If you plan to be together till a ripe old age you need to see if you and your partner’s pension plans will fund your lifestyle in retirement. Get a financial adviser to calculate how much you will need in retirement and find out whether your funds are on track to meet those needs.
Take a look at our pension fund guide for tips on the right questions to ask your fund manager.

4. Do you have life insurance?

This is particularly important if you have children or are a stay-at-home wife. “Getting life cover is also more expensive the older you get and you may be denied the insurance if your health isn’t good, so it’s usually advisable to get life cover when you are younger,” advises Andre Goethals, life manager at InsuranceBusters. Take a look at ‘How to choose the right life cover to suit your budget’ for more details on taking out the best policy for you and your family.

5. Have you written a will?

If you do not have a will when you pass away, the South African law of Intestate Succession will divide your estate between your spouse and children, subject to a minimum of R 125,000 going to your spouse first. If you do not have children, that money will go directly to your spouse. If you have children but no spouse, your estate gets passed on to the children. If you have no children and no spouse, your money goes to your parents. However, you and your partner may wish to divide your money differently. That’s why drafting a will is of utmost importance. If you earn a low income, you can approach a pro-bono attorney. Try the Wits Law Clinic, The Legal Resources Centre or probono.org.

Alternatively, you can download a free will off websites such as Free Legal Docs. However, as freelance attorney Emma Holtmann warns: “You have to be careful because there are strict formalities for the execution of a will: you need to have a witness who signs every page, and the testator (the person making the will) needs to sign every page too. You also need to ensure that at the beginning of your will is a statement confirming that you are of sound mind and that you freely declare this to be your last will and testament.”

If you would like to speak directly to a legal consultant, call the legal society in your province on the numbers listed below:
– Gauteng, Mpumalanga, Limpopo, North-West: 012-338-5800
– Cape provinces: 021-443-6700
– Free State: 051-447-3237
– KwaZulu-Natal: 033-345-1304

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