You may have heard that women, on average, live longer than men, but did you know that the average age of widowhood in the U.S. is 59? Scary, right? A few months ago, we wrote an article outlining the documents you need to have in place for your heirs. Now let’s focus on you—what should you know to prepare for the possibility that you survive your spouse? It is easier to figure these things out with your spouse by your side. Here are a few tips to get you on the path to success and hopefully make this unpleasant task less daunting.
— Who are the players on your “team”? Get to know your family’s professional advisors (CPA, attorney, investment advisor, banker, insurance agent, etc.). Go to the meetings and ask questions to get a good understanding of your family’s finances and establish a relationship with your team.
— Widows report that their number one fear is running out of money. To avoid loss in standard of living, understand your family’s cash flows. What changes may occur if your spouse is no longer alive?
— Consider possible reductions in income such as lower social security benefits, pension benefits without survivorship rights, VA benefits, etc. If this is the case, there are some strategies that you can deploy now to reduce financial stress later.
— Ask your team to help you navigate some of the complexities that you and your spouse may not have thought about, such as higher taxes for single filers or reduced social security benefits due to increased Medicare premiums.
— Have a frank discussion on funeral arrangements to understand your spouse’s wishes.
— Locate and review estate planning and financial documents with your team. Make sure you and your spouse have them stored somewhere safe.
— Understand what websites, digital accounts, or safe deposit boxes your family uses, and make sure you can access them in your spouse’s absence.
— Evaluate elder care options for yourself down the line.
At RCG, we strongly believe in engaging both spouses in all aspects of the planning process and update meetings. We also welcome your children to attend meetings if you feel it’s appropriate for your situation. We are part of your team and are always here to help guide you through the process. A little preparation now can potentially save a lot of worries and financial stress down the road.