There are somethings you can never be fully prepared for. Losing a spouse is something that there is no way to emotionally prepare for, but there are steps you can take to at least be prepared financially, so when the time comes you have the time and space you need to fully grieve. By having hard conversations about death now, you can help protect yourself or your loved one from additional turmoil when that awful day comes. Nobody ever wants to think of this worst-case scenario, but it is something
As common of an occurrence as it is, very few people ever plan ahead for the loss of their spouse. In a recent study, 76% of married retirees said that they would not be prepared financially if their spouse passed away, and 53% of people who have lost a spouse said that they did not have a plan in place before their loss.
In the past, we have worked with widows after the death of their spouse who came to us lost and overwhelmed by the financial responsibilities they suddenly faced. A study showed that this is not uncommon– two-thirds of all widows or widowers say that they were struggled with the amount of financial paperwork thrust upon them after their loss. In a time where people should be focusing on their emotional well-being, they are burdened by fear and anxiety about their financial future.
Women, in particular, should plan for widowhood when planning for their financial future. 78% of widows are women, and women live an average of five years longer than men. This means that, on average, they are 3.5 times more likely to become widowed.
As hard as it can be to discuss the untimely passing of you or your spouse, planning ahead will allow you to care for one another even after one of you has passed. Here are a few steps you can take to prepare.
Prioritize Being Organized
The first step you can take to protecting yourself from increased turmoil is to get documents and account numbers in place. Examples include:
Any Investments you may have
Account numbers for your bank and broker
Power of Attorney
You should keep these documents and information safe but easily accessible should anything happen.
Invest in Each Other
We always tell our clients that they’re never investing as individuals; all of their investments are also their spouse’s. Should something happen to the account holder, their spouse’s financial future relies on the accounts the deceased spouse set up.
The three key financial issues faced by widows are adjusting to being the sole decision-maker, loss of income, and navigating paperwork. It’s therefore crucial for both spouses to be involved in the financial and retirement planning process. Work together while you still can so that if the day comes where you are alone, you can adjust and move forward more confidently.
Start by having a discussion with your partner about the possibility of creating joint accounts or other options that would provide the surviving spouse with retirement income. With the loss of income being a top issue widows face, it is even more important to plan ahead.
This is a topic that is never pleasant to think about. Remember that by planning ahead you are giving your spouse the security to be okay no matter what happens in the future. If you or your spouse have any questions about planning a retirement that provides security in widowhood, please call (716) 586-8568.