By LouAnn Schulfer, AWMA®, AIF®
Accredited Wealth Management Advisor®
Accredited Investment Fiduciary
If you are married, what are the chances that one of you will become widowed? The answer: 100%. Death is the ultimate certainty for all of us, yet it’s common to not think about or plan for it. I often hear people say “If I were to die..….” I politely and gently correct the statement to “You mean when, not if.” While there are aspects of widowed life that we can not fathom, financially, there are steps we can take to prepare. While we all know it’s important to check beneficiary designations and have wills or trusts and financial documents in order, I’ve found other nuances that, when discussed and thought through in advance, can make the financial aspects of widowhood go smoother. Conversely, I’ve seen it the other way, becoming stressful on the surviving spouse now going it alone.
In marriage, we commonly divide out responsibilities. Often, one spouse takes the lead on managing the lifelong accumulation of retirement accounts and investments. If you are this person, who will replace you? To expect your spouse to go this alone is unreasonable if they have not been as involved as you are. Talk this through: who can they turn to? Is there a professional and trusted relationship in place or that can be established? The mechanics of how assets transfer is an important step but from there, making prudent financial decisions is an ongoing process. Discuss how this will play out, because if you are a married couple, chances of one of you becoming a widow are 100%.
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