CHICAGO--(BUSINESS WIRE)--End-of-life financial planning has become an important facet of retirement planning as the nation’s 76 million Baby Boomers march toward retirement. The goal is to assure the surviving spouse won’t face financial confusion and uncertainty along with the emotional upheaval of losing a loved one.
“We’ve found in our practice that Baby Boomers are more open to discussing and preparing for end of life issues,” says Stewart Mather, CFP, CIMA, head of The Mather Group, LLC, with offices in suburban Chicago and Houston. “But there are some people who continue to push these important decisions down the road, which can result in confusion and costly mistakes for the surviving spouse.”
The Mather Group’s clients are high-net worth individuals and families, which can add to end-of-life financial complexities making planning even more critical. But there are basic tips that apply to anyone:
- Share all pertinent financial information with your spouse or partner. This includes account passwords, money owed on loans and credit cards, cash on hand, all investments, vehicle titles, mortgages, etc. Store this knowledge in a fully encrypted, cloud-based safety deposit box such as Fidelity’s FidSafe®.
- Plan end of life celebrations now. Anyone approaching retirement should take on this responsibility so loved ones will understand their wishes and not be saddled with the cost. Average funeral expenses exceed $7,000 for only basic services.
- Have an up-to-date will. You don’t have to be wealthy to need a will; this is the only way you can assure that your assets end up with whom you want them to as opposed to the state divvying them up for you. Meet with an estate planning attorney to draw up a will or trust. Also, be aware that any beneficiaries named on bank accounts, investment accounts, etc., will supersede the will.
- Know your Social Security benefits. If both partners are retired, the surviving spouse will be able to receive the larger of the two Social Security checks. This does not happen automatically – you must complete an application for survivor’s benefits. If children under the age of 18 are left behind, additional benefits are available.
- Have a cash reserve. Establish a separate cash reserve account for unforeseen expenses, including probate costs, lingering debt, taxes, etc. How much you will need depends on your personal circumstances; your financial planner can help you anticipate these costs.
By planning now, surviving spouses can guard against making bad decisions during a highly emotional time, says Mather. “We advise our clients to hold off on making any significant financial or lifestyle changes for six months to a year following the death of a spouse. This is not the time to talk to the annuity salesman or take financial advice from well-meaning relatives.”
A secure financial future after a spouse dies depends on getting good financial advice in the first place. Fee-only, Registered Investment Advisors (RIAs) such as The Mather Group are held to the highest fiduciary standard by law, requiring that they only offer guidance and make recommendations that are in the best interest of their clients. Locate an RIA in your area through The National Association of Personal Financial Advisors.
The Mather Group is a fee-only RIA wealth management advisory focused on guiding corporate executives and professionals into successful retirement. Services offered include investment management, retirement planning, tax and estate planning. The firm has offices in Oak Brook Terrace, IL and Houston, TX.