Why You and Your Spouse Should Have This Difficult Conversation

Mike Gann Estate Planning, Retirement Planning

You and your spouse have probably been dreaming about retirement for decades. Your retirement should be a celebratory event, but it can also bring unique challenges. If you and your spouse don’t discuss those challenges, you could put yourself and your spouse in a risky financial position.

Perhaps one of the most difficult conversations to have as a married couple is a discussion about end-of-life issues and death. While you may not want to talk about it, it’s likely that one of you will pass away before the other. The surviving spouse could then live for years or even decades.

It’s important for couples to talk about this so they can plan adequately. The death of a spouse can be difficult not only from an emotional perspective, but also from a financial position. Below are a few questions for you and your spouse to consider:


What assets, insurance policies and income streams are available for the surviving spouse?

In some couples, one spouse is more responsible for handling the finances than the other spouse. That can create problems if the spouse who handles the finances passes away. The surviving spouse may be forced to sort through statements and track down accounts during a period that is already emotionally difficult.

You may want to sit down with your spouse and create an inventory of all your 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 may also want to include items such as Social Security benefits, military survivor benefits and pension benefits. The surviving spouse can then use this document to get their financial affairs in order.


How should your legacy be passed to the next generation?

You and your spouse may have an estate plan that could include a will, trust, or other documents. Life can change quickly, though. If you created those documents years ago, it’s possible that they don’t accurately reflect you and your spouse’s current 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? Do you now have a desire to leave assets to charity?

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 revise or create new documents that better reflect your wishes.


Do either of you have specific end-of-life wishes?

Unfortunately, many people spend their final days or weeks in a hospital or other health care facility, or being cared for in their home. 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. Do you both want to be kept alive during certain health challenges? Are there any conditions in which you would not want doctors to save your life? Who should make decisions on your behalf?

By having this discussion, 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 have this difficult conversation? If so, let’s talk about it. Contact us at Advantage Retirement Services. We can help facilitate this conversation and help you and your spouse become better prepared. Let’s connect soon.


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