Ep 46: Figuring Out Finances After the Death of a Spouse

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The Concept:

It’s a topic no one likes to think about. Would you be OK financially if your spouse passed away? Find out how to prepare financially for a worst-case scenario like this and what common mistakes people make.

The Reality of the Matter:

It’s a difficult conversation to have but a necessary one. Would you be OK financially if your spouse suddenly passed away? On this episode of the Retirement Reality Podcast, Mike Kojonen explains how you can prepare financially for the loss of a spouse and shares some common mistakes people make.

We dealt with three or four cases last year where a client lost a spouse. While each conversation was difficult, it was easier for those who planned ahead and were prepared. The most common questions were heard were: Am I going to be OK? Do I have to go back to work? How am I doing financially? Can you tell me where my money is?

In our experience, one spouse typically controls all the finances, and it’s usually the husband. If he suddenly passes away, the wife is left with a lot to figure out and a lot of questions. That’s why we recommend both spouses be involved in financial decisions and discussions.

We can help you sort out everything from pensions and social security to taxes and estate planning. But the most important advice we can give you is to have a plan in place before a spouse dies.

“We’re serious when we tell people, ‘Get your estate plan done. Don’t just have this will you did in 1985, 1990 and you think that’s going to protect your estate,’” said Mike.

We have much more advice in the episode, as well as a viewer mailbag question about what kinds of topics your financial advisor should be helping you with. Listen to the full episode or use the timestamps below to find a specific segment.

0:55 – A tough situation

2:31 – What can you do to prepare?

3:42 – Why it’s important to meet with both spouses

4:30 – Immediate financial challenges when a spouse dies

7:55 – Wife didn’t know where all the assets were

9:43 – Husband and wife had good plan in place

11:18 – Why planning is key

12:54 – Mailbag: What should a financial advisor help me with?

Thanks for checking out the Retirement Reality Podcast. We’ll talk to you again next week.

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