Most people do!
Have you considered your marital status during retirement – and its financial and social impact on you? According to the US Census Bureau, 42.4% of people over age 65 were single in 2015 and 1 in 4 of those was a widow or a widower. So whether you are already single or believe you will never be single - this is for you.
If you enter into retirement divorced, widowed, or have never married; you tend to plan better to be single because you are. One thing you may have neglected to think about is what your life will look like beyond your career. How will you fill the “well-being” gap your career has provided you over the years—the social, mental, and physical aspects? We wrote a piece on “Retirement Readiness” several years ago called—Will You Flunk Retirement? Every future retiree should read this and take it to heart; but single retirees may need it just a little more.
Another overlooked gap is the “Who:” Who will help you when your health begins to fail you—who will help financially, mentally and physically? A few years ago we saw a victim of elder abuse—a wonderful, intelligent single woman who had no family. A “new” friend in her life began to help her in all ways as her health began to fail. Unfortunately, her legacy won’t be maintained as she intended due to the financial drain this friend put on her estate.
And then there is that chance of marriage... or remarriage. What would this look like since you have already accumulated your wealth? It is always easy to think rationally as long as you are not in love, but when you are; all rationale goes out the door. Moreover, kids from a previous marriage can make this even messier.
It is common that if retirement is heavy on your mind, you are primarily focused on maximizing every avenue you have for income. However, it is unpleasant and difficult to follow the thought “What if I die prematurely and leave my spouse behind?” Did you consider that he/she will lose a Social Security check that count toward that income, and maybe worse—pension income? If your plan already includes maximizing every source of income, what will your surviving spouse do? During our working years, it is a no brainer to go buy life insurance or disability insurance to hedge the risk of losing your earning power, but in retirement we tend to forget or minimize the power of these types of planning options. You simply cannot! Let’s play this backwards. If you had a 1 in 4 chance that you could roll the dice and win, would you play the game? You may be thinking “it depends—what is the cost?” Would the cost matter if losing meant that your spouse would be financially devastated? This is the game you are playing if you don’t have a solid plan in place to take care of each other. And frankly, if you are married, your planning is harder. You not only need to plan for the scenarios we just talked about, but you also need to address everything we discussed a single person has to plan for as well.
For years we have used the saying what you don’t know that you don’t know is often what will end up hurting you. These are just a few of those little pieces you need to know so it won’t hurt you!