Should I worry about my husband’s secret bank account?

Dear Petunia,

I don’t know if I should hire a lawyer, but my husband has been withdrawing money from our joint bank account. He has been transferring it in his name to a new bank account for which I have no information.

We all have social security and pensions. I take a total of US$1,400 each month, but he takes a total of US$6,100 each month. He pays for mortgages, water bills, electricity bills, food and house repairs. I pay for my own car, gasoline, tolls for both of us, and my personal belongings.

He once kept half of my total salary, but I told him that I needed to pay my credit card. I also help my four adult children; he is their stepfather. Should I be worried?

-Worried wife

Dear worry,

Unless you think there may be a naive explanation, such as your husband is planning to surprise you, it is obvious that your husband does not want you to know what is happening. You should definitely be worried.

The fact that you have little control over your finances is itself disturbing. Your husband may pay most of your expenses, but do you really know where the $6,100 per month is going? It sounds like he has discretionary power, and you get a small amount of pocket money.

I think you should consult a lawyer. Unfortunately, with joint accounts, either party can withdraw the entire balance in most cases, so it sounds like your husband has not done anything illegal.

But you need to prepare for the worst. Sometimes people try to hide money before filing for a divorce. Or you might want to end this marriage because of a secret that your husband keeps.

I assume that your husband did not know that you discovered his secret bank account. If you find a transfer when you look at your bank statement and are able to talk about money publicly, then you can simply mention it in a non-confrontational way. Suppose you notice that he opened another bank account and check the information he provided.

But I have a feeling that in this kind of relationship, there will be no public discussion about money. In this case, avoid confronting him for the time being.What matters is you Open a separate account That’s just in your name.

Try to deposit any money you can withdraw into your separate account so you can save months of expenses. If you are still paying off your credit card, just pay the minimum repayment amount to save extra cash temporarily. If you can come up with a reason to explain why you need to withdraw the extra money, then go ahead.

Although this is difficult, tell your adult children that you cannot help them right now. But be sure to tell them what happened, because you need emotional support. After you finally face your husband, you may want to arrange to live with one of them for a few days.

Although you found a secret bank account, I am worried that there may be other things you don’t know.Get a free copy of each of your three credit reports Annual Credit Make sure that there are no accounts you don’t recognize, and verify that any joint credit accounts are up to date.

If this marriage is salvable, I hope you can re-examine the way you handle finances. You and your husband should check account statements and bills regularly. You need to easily ask questions about any major transaction.

But for now, I think you need to prepare for the worst. Meet with a lawyer to start planning. Most importantly, trust your instincts. Secret bank accounts are a big red flag that cannot be ignored.

Robin Hartill is Penny Hoarder’s certified financial planner and senior writer.Send your tough money questions to [email protected].

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