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Are You Prepared for Your Spouse’s Death?

Filed under: Life Events, Estate Planning

Financial planning is often used to develop a strategy to achieve one’s biggest financial goals and dreams. Unfortunately, financial planning often also involves needs and objectives that may not be pleasant to think about.

Perhaps one of the most unpleasant events that can happen in one’s life is the loss of a spouse. After all, you and your spouse may have spent decades together raising a family and building a life. Or perhaps you and your spouse connected later in life. Either way, your spouse likely occupies a major role in your life, and his or her absence would create a sizable void.

While you may not want to think about your spouse’s death, it’s important to do so. That’s especially true if you are in the later years of retirement. 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 a financially challenging situation.

Below are three issues you may want to talk about with your spouse. If you haven’t discussed these items with him or her, or if you haven’t thought about them at all, now may be the time to do so.


Assets, Insurance and Benefits

From a strictly financial perspective, 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 wide range of assets and insurance policies, including things like employer retirement plans, individual retirement accounts, life insurance policies, pensions and more.

Create a document that inventories all these assets. 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 Objectives

You and your spouse may already have created a full estate plan. However, it’s possible that you have not. It’s also possible that your current estate plan doesn’t fully reflect you and your spouse’s wishes.

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?

It never hurts 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.


End-of-Life Wishes

It’s possible that your spouse’s final days or weeks could be spent in a hospital or other health care facility. If your spouse develops a cognitive issue like Alzheimer’s, they may spend much of their final years in a state of incapacitation, a condition in which they are not able to communicate their own 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 difficult conversation? If so, let’s talk about it. Contact us at Ambrose Financial & Insurance Services. 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.

16532 – 2017/3/22