I recently had a prospective client come into my office who lost her husband unexpectedly at age 60. Her husband ran a very successful small business and, because he loved what he did, he had planned to work forever. Her husband also handled the family finances. He did a fantastic job planning for the future by saving for future goals and working to protect his family, except he forgot about one key thing: he never included his wife on discussions about the finances.
The tragedy of the wife’s loss was two-fold. On one side, she was grieving the devastating and unexpected loss of her husband. And at the same time, she was terrified… she had no clue about their financial situation, her financial future or even how to start settling his estate.
Fortunately, in this specific example, the husband had done a great job of planning and preparing, and his wife will be financially secure. However, so much initial anxiety and stress could have been eliminated if they would have had routine meetings to discuss finances together. It is imperative that both partners know their financial plan for their future, as well as the contingency plan if something unexpected arises.
While men are often labeled as the head of a household, studies show that women live longer. Despite this fact, I recently read a statistic that 56% of married women leave investment and long-term financial planning decisions to their husbands, and 85% of the women who defer this responsibility to their husbands believe their spouses know more about financial matters*. This is a statistic that needs to change.
To be involved in financial discussions does not mean that you need to read the Wall Street Journal every day or that you even need to be interested in finances. It is very typical for one spouse to handle the day-to-day finances, but there needs to be open dialogue and consensus so that everyone in the family has a basic understanding of what is going on financially within the household, from budgeting to long-term planning.
At Pathfinder Wealth Consulting, we stress the importance of having both spouses participate in short- and long-term planning discussions. If one spouse cannot attend a meeting, we will send a follow-up summary and action items from the meeting to make sure everyone is on the same page. Having a trusted adviser, an objective third party, to bounce ideas off in an impartial way can help tremendously when building a long-term financial plan. If you’re ready to start the conversation, please give us a call at (910) 793-0616 or visit our website at www.PWCPath.com for more information.