While retirement should be a celebratory event, it can also bring some difficult challenges. Those challenges can spur difficult conversations, especially between spouses. Perhaps one of the most complex issues a couple can face in retirement is the prospect of declining health, long-term care needs and even death.
The topic of your own death or your spouse’s death certainly doesn’t make for pleasant conversation. However, 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?
You may have accumulated a wide range of assets, benefits, and insurance policies over the years. It’s not uncommon for a retired couple to have access to things like employer retirement plans, individual retirement accounts, life insurance policies, pensions and more. It’s important for the surviving spouse to be aware of those accounts and assets so they can retitle accounts, file for death claims and take any other needed action.
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 kind of legacy do you want to leave behind?
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.
What are each spouse’s 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. Contact us at Gallagher Financial Group. We can help facilitate this conversation, and then help you and your spouse become better prepared. Let’s connect soon.
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