Engaged couples often spend hours and hours planning their wedding day. Details such as the invitations, cake and guest list take on considerable importance. Much research is done and options weighed all in the quest of orchestrating a “perfect” event. As couples plan this spectacular day, are they also planning for all the days to follow? Are they thinking beyond the wedding itself to essential things like wills and life insurance?
Few couples, especially those marrying young, imagine the thought of a spouse dying early on in the marriage. Addressing this possibility and strategizing accordingly may prevent financial hardship during a time of emotional devastation.
Women especially need to plan ahead financially:
- They usually outlive men by 5.3 years on average.
- Nearly one third of women between the ages of 65 and 74 qualify as widows.
- This figure jumps significantly to over 51% as women reach age 75.
- Women may become financially disadvantaged when their husbands die, for a variety of reasons. Sometimes women work part-time or even temporarily leave the work force as they juggle raising children and/or caring for aging parents. Fewer years spent working full-time outside the home affects pension accumulations and Social Security benefits. Also statistically women earn 77 cents on the dollar compared to men. This gap widens with age.
Developing solutions in advance of life’s unpredictable events may help you deal with a loss someday. Here are actions to take as you prepare for life beyond your wedding day:
- Talk to your fiancé and family about your financial concerns, difficult as this may be. Perhaps schedule an appointment with a financial professional, or a family or estate attorney. Their knowledge can help you define goals, identify needs, ask the right questions and make important decisions.
- Ask yourself and your partner some serious questions. Does your financial outlook consider the possibility of your spouse’s death? Do you have a will? Are your financial documents, wills, trusts organized? Do either of you have short and long-term wishes?
- Draft a will. Implementing a will usually is quite time consuming even when constructed during a stress-free time in your life. There are many things to evaluate; you must think about important issues related to financial and personal matters. Perhaps as a result, 55% of Americans don’t have wills. An attorney can facilitate this process.
- Learn about each other’s assets including all bank accounts, retirement plans, insurance coverage, tax returns, life and disability income insurance policies.
- Develop an orderly, easy-to-access system. Store important paperwork and documents in a safe deposit box, locked file cabinet or some secure place with easy access. Make sure you both regularly update these materials.
As you and your spouse-to-be plan your special wedding day, don’t forget to also address the future beyond. Horrible as it is to think about the death of your spouse, not preparing for the possibility can make a difficult time in your life that much worse. Don’t wait to get your financial matters organized. Develop solutions for a variety of life scenarios today.