Retirement Planning for Two
September 02, 2014

When one spouse takes no interest in retirement planning.


As an advisor, I often see one spouse take the lead on investing and planning for retirement while the other stays completely away and has no idea as to what is going on. If you are one of the spouses who does not participate, this approach is wrought with problems for many reasons, which are too long to list. Instead, think about joining in. Here are the top three reasons to be a part of this process:

  1. If something should happen to your spouse, you will have the burden of handling all the finances including overseeing the investments going forward. Not only will you be dealing with your grief at the loss of your loved one, you will be trying to coordinate plans among your estate attorney, financial advisor and accountant.  Mistakes are easy to make, and in the case of death or disability, they can be costly. If these three areas are not well integrated in advance, you will find yourself lost in a chaos of information overload and will have little time to educate yourself. In addition, you are going need a lot of hand holding and that does not come for free. Professionals charge for the extra time that it takes to answer your questions and to help you coordinate the estate.
  1. Often, one spouse may invest your joint retirement assets differently than you may want. This may include overly ambitious and risky investments that have potential of significant losses. Many spouses are not aware of poor investment decisions and their impact on the retirement future until it is too late to make up the losses with further saving. If you were to get involved and educate yourself on the investments, the blending of your preferences and those of your spouse may turn out to be a far more practical portfolio that will meet your overall goals.
  1. It is helpful for both of you to have a retirement plan for the future and have this plan together as you will both live the plan. A retirement plan projects out your future hopes, your lifestyle in retirement including such items as travel, a second home, children’s weddings, health care, philanthropy, inheritance for your children and more. A financial plan shows you if your current assets and future savings will allow you to afford all that you want to do.  If the plan shows that you are not within your goals, you and your spouse can choose alternatives together to get where you want to go. This type of planning allows you and your spouse to dream together and plan your wonderful future. Why would one spouse go at this alone?

While participating in retirement planning may feel intimidating or scary, joining in early is a lot easier than facing crucial financial decisions alone in a time of need. Understanding your retirement plan and investments in advance saves a lot of anxiety later.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and should not be interpreted as individualized investment advice. Investment objectives, risk tolerances and the financial situation of individual investors may vary. Please consult your financial and tax advisers before investing.

Photo credit: dailymail.co.uk

Susan Templeton

September 2014