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5 Ways to Make Sure Your Wife Is Financially Set When You’re Gone

Summary: Financial planning for death seems intimidating and even a little morbid, but it’s critical for ensuring your spouse is comfortable and safe after you’re gone.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the average life expectancy for women is 79 years compared to 73 years for men. Around the globe, women tend to outlive men. And those who marry tend to marry older men, which means that most wives will outlive their husbands.

In light of these trends, it’s important for you to plan for the future in the event your wife outlives you. Financial planning for death might seem intimidating and a little morbid, but it’s always better to plan ahead. After all, the very last thing you want is your wife to worry about finances during a time of intense grief.

The Importance of Financial Planning for Death

Although this is certainly not the case in every situation, men still manage most of the finances in a majority of today’s households. A recent survey found that couples overwhelmingly agree on the importance of both individuals making financial decisions together. Still, nearly half of women deferred those decisions to their spouses. Only 20% of couples reported making financial decisions together.

Though this has been the case for some time, more groups agree that women should be equipped to make more financial decisions, particularly with the likelihood that they will be doing it on their own at some point. When women have little to no involvement in financial planning, their grieving process is made worse after the death of a spouse, and many fall prey to financial scams while trying to piece together an entire picture of their finances. No one wants to think of their spouse feeling overwhelmed and/or getting taken advantage of. You have to do everything in your power to make her feel comfortable and confident before something happens to you — this will increase her chances of preserving wealth and accomplishing everyone’s goals.

A lot of husbands want to set their wives up for financial and organizational success after they’re gone, but they are usually unsure of the best ways to do so. Below are five steps you can take now to ensure your wife is prepared for your passing and beyond:

1. Hire a trusted financial advisor.

The first step is to begin working with a financial advisor who can collaborate well with both you and your spouse. Before the two of you start interviewing advisors, encourage your wife to write down all of her pressing questions so that it’s easier to vet advisors in the initial meetings. This allows the wife’s concerns to be answered while the husband is still alive, which leads to a sense of calmness and more understanding. If it is just the husband asking questions, this might lead to more uncertainty on behalf of the wife because her initial confusion might not be resolved.

As you make the final decision, consider the advisor who is not only competent, but also makes you both feel at ease. It will be particularly beneficial to work with a financial advisor who can give guidance on taxes, estate planning, and insurance. The last several clients I brought on were husbands wanting to find an advisor who made their wives feel comfortable. I am always overjoyed to work with men who realize how important this is and, in many cases, set aside their own pride to get help.

2. Highlight all of your accounts.

In many cases, wives are not made aware of accounts, bills, and subscriptions under their husbands’ names until after they are gone. Usually, this is not out of malice but just simple oversight. However, this is problematic, as they might face unexpected expenses after their spouses’ death. To prevent this from happening to your wife, give her access to all of your accounts now so that she can manage them successfully in the future.

3. Give your wife access to essential documents.

The last thing your wife should worry about when you are gone is how to access important documents. Both you and your wife should know where all your important documents are located, including wills, trusts, powers of attorney, healthcare documents, and life insurance policies. She will need immediate access to these documents after your death.

4. Maintain at least one joint account.

Make sure you have at least one bank account under both of your names. This should be the account out of which bills are paid, no matter which of you passes first. For instance, you don’t want the electricity to go off in your home due to nonpayment while your wife has to make funeral arrangements.

5. Give your wife an ‘emergency’ contact list.

If you have kids, you are no stranger to emergency contact lists. Apply the same logic in your estate planning by ensuring your wife has a contact list with each of your life VIPs on it, including your accountant, your estate attorney, your financial advisor, and your insurance agents. She will need to call every one of these contacts when you are gone, so leave nothing in the dark. You can keep these contacts in an estate planning memo for your spouse to access in one place at any time.

Financial planning for your death, though seemingly morbid, is one of the best gifts you can give your wife. You don’t want to risk her getting taken advantage of when you are gone. Doing everything you can to make her feel at ease and assured about finances before something happens to you will help her better preserve her wealth after you’re gone.

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