“If you're part of a married couple, it's highly likely that one of you will become a widow or widower at some point. You'll have lots of company: The U.S. now has 20 million widows and widowers, with 1.4 million added each year, according to an insightful study by Merrill Lynch and Age Wave…”
Did you know that women are more than three times as likely as men to lose their spouse, according to the Merrill Lynch and Age Wave study? That’s because women typically outlive men, and men tend to marry younger women.
CBS Money Watch’s recent article, “A retirement planning must-do for married couples,” says that there's still a big disconnect between both members of a married couple concerning this risk. About 53% of those who've lost a spouse, said they didn't have a plan, if one of them passed away. More than 76% of married retirees also responded that they wouldn't be financially prepared for retirement, if their spouse passed away.
More than 75% of people who've lost a spouse said it's the single hardest thing they've ever been through. Half of these individuals experience a household decline in income of 50% or more, with 66% reporting that adjusting to this income loss is their top financial concern.
About two-thirds of those who've lost a spouse said at the start of their grief, they were so overwhelmed with paperwork, they didn't know where to start.
The Merrill Lynch/Age Wave study found that only 36% of people who lost a spouse (but planned for it) were concerned that they wouldn't be able to support themselves right afterward, compared to 64% in this group who hadn't planned at all. Therefore, what advice do people who've lost their spouse have for the newly widowed? Consider this:
- Don’t make major decisions immediately.
- Find your important documents and continue to pay bills on time.
- Inform employers and financial institutions.
- Review your retirement strategy.
- Update your beneficiaries and estate plans.
- Know how to access your spouse's accounts and place both names on all accounts and deeds.
- Be able to easily access cash.
- Keep your credit card debt separate.
Although losing a spouse creates tremendous pain and difficulty, 75% of respondents said that after losing a spouse, they found courage they never knew they had. Almost 75% say that today they consider themselves more financially savvy than other people their age. That’s some good news.
Reference: CBS Money Watch (September 12, 2018) “A retirement planning must-do for married couples”