Retirement is a happy milestone, but it can also be a transition that brings difficult issues and challenges. Those challenges can spur tough conversations, especially between spouses. One of the most difficult issues for any couple is facing the prospect of declining health and even death.
It may not be pleasant to think about your own death or your spouse’s death, but it’s a discussion you shouldn’t ignore. It is probable that one of you will outlive the other, perhaps by years or even decades. By discussing death and end-of-life matters in advance, you can ensure financial stability for the surviving spouse.
Below are a few questions to discuss. If you don’t have answers for these questions, it may be time for you and your spouse to discuss them.
What assets, insurance and benefits are available for the surviving spouse?
If you’re like many couples, you and your spouse have accumulated a wide range of assets, benefits, and insurance policies over the years. It’s not uncommon for a retired couple to have employer retirement plans, individual retirement accounts, life insurance policies, pensions and more. The surviving spouse should be aware of all these assets and accounts so he or she can get their financial affairs in order.
Create an inventory of all these assets and accounts. 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 should also include potential income sources, such as Social Security, pension benefits and more.
You probably don’t want your spouse to have to track down accounts and insurance policies in the days, weeks and months following your death. Discuss in advance and create an inventory to help them through this process.
What are your goals for your estate?
Do you and your spouse have an estate plan? Many people believe estate planning is only for the ultra-wealthy, but the truth is that it’s important for anyone who wants to leave a legacy for their loved ones.
Review your current planning documents, including wills, trusts and more. Has anything changed with your situation that would impact your estate and how it is distributed? 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 originally anticipated?
You may want to consult with an estate planning professional. They can discuss your goals and objectives with you and then examine your current documents. If needed, they can help you revise or create new documents that better reflect your wishes.
Do you or your spouse have specific end-of-life wishes?
It’s possible that you or your spouse could spend the final days, weeks or months in a hospital or other health care facility. If you or your spouse develop a cognitive issue like Alzheimer’s, you could spend much of your final years in a state of incapacitation, a condition in which you are not able to communicate your own decisions and desires.
Now may be the time to discuss end-of-life care with your spouse. That way, both 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 answer these tough questions? If so, let’s talk about it. We can help facilitate this conversation, and then help you and your spouse become better prepared. Let’s connect soon.