It may not be the most pleasing conversation subject, but death often plays a critical role in the financial planning process. That’s especially true after you retire and as you advance in age. Death is inevitable, and without a plan in place, it can create serious financial challenges for the surviving spouse.
While you may not want to think about your spouse’s death, it’s important to do so. By planning ahead and talking about the inevitable, you and your spouse can protect each other’s wishes and ensure that the surviving spouse is not left in an uncomfortable financial position.
Below are three issues you may want to discuss with your spouse. If you haven’t talked about these matters, or if you haven’t thought about them at all, now may be the time to do so.
Assets, Insurance, and Benefits
It’s important for both you and your spouse to have a full understanding of all the assets, insurance policies and benefits that may be available upon the other’s death. Many couples have a broad range of assets and insurance policies, including things like employer retirement plans, individual retirement accounts, life insurance policies, pensions and more.
In some couples, one spouse takes on most of the responsibility for paying bills and managing the household finances. If that spouse passes away first, the other spouse may have trouble sorting through all the available assets and income sources.
Create a document that inventories all these assets, insurance policies, benefits, and more. The document should include a title for the asset or policy, the contact information for the firm that manages the asset, and an estimate of the asset’s value. You also may want to include items such as Social Security benefits, military survivor benefits, and pension benefits.
In the days, weeks and months following your spouse’s death, you probably won’t want to spend your time tracking down old investment accounts and life insurance policies. By creating this documentation now, you can save yourself significant stress in the future.
Estate Planning Goals
You and your spouse may already have created a will or maybe even a trust. However, it’s possible that you have not. It’s also possible that your current estate plan doesn’t adequately reflect you and your spouse’s wishes.
Review your current planning documents, including wills, trusts and more. Has anything changed with your estate goals? Are there new children or grandchildren in the family who aren’t included in your current plan? Has the value of your assets increased, making it possible for you to leave more to your loved ones than you had initially anticipated? Have you decided to leave assets to charity?
You may want to consult with an estate planning professional. They can discuss your goals and objectives with you and then review your current documents. If needed, they can help you create new documents or revise documents, so they better reflect your wishes.
Unfortunately, incapacitation is a sad reality for many seniors in the final months or years of their life. It’s possible that you or your spouse could spend your last days or weeks in a hospital or other health care facility. If you or your spouse develops a cognitive issue like Alzheimer’s, you may spend much of your final years in a state of incapacitation, a condition in which they are not able to communicate their decisions and desires.
Now may be the time to discuss end-of-life care with your spouse. That way, each of you will fully understand the other’s wishes. You will then be able to make more informed decisions regarding each other’s health care should one of you become unable to make those decisions yourself.
Are you and your spouse ready to have this conversation? If so, let’s talk about it. Contact us at J. Harris Financial. We can help facilitate this conversation and help you and your spouse become better prepared. Let’s connect soon.
Licensed Insurance Professional. This information is designed to provide a general overview with regard to the subject matter covered and is not state specific. The authors, publisher and host are not providing legal, accounting or specific advice for your situation. By providing your information, you give consent to be contacted about the possible sale of an insurance or annuity product. This information has been provided by a Licensed Insurance Professional and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting insurance professional. The statements and opinions expressed are those of the author and are subject to change at any time. All information is believed to be from reliable sources; however, presenting insurance professional makes no representation as to its completeness or accuracy. This material has been prepared for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide, and should not be relied upon for, accounting, legal, tax or investment advice.
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