Five things you need to discuss with your partner before it's too late.

Surveys Suggest What Men and Women Need to Address


NEW YORK, January 14, 2015—Recent national studies have shown that Americans have put off important discussions and decisions that are key to achieving financial security. One survey of widows and widowers revealed that 40 percent of widows reported negative lifestyle changes the year after the loss of a spouse.* Another study highlighted a self-reported gap in life insurance coverage as a major risk for families.

“Our study of spouses who faced the death of a partner makes clear that the cost of doing nothing is great, yet too few couples take the steps necessary to put proper plans in place,” said Chris Blunt, co-president of the Insurance and Agency Group, New York Life. “The result is that the partner left behind faces financial and emotional burdens that could have been avoided.” Both surveys were commissioned by New York Life and conducted by noted opinion research firms.

Here are five steps to make proper financial planning a reality in 2015:


  1. Make an appointment with your spouse or partner to have this discussion.

    It may seem a bit formal, but making an appointment with your spouse is a good way to make sure you discuss what can be difficult topics. Widows surveyed reported wishing they’d had detailed discussions with their spouse before they passed. Schedule the talk before it is too late.

  2. Ensure you have enough life insurance coverage on yourself and your spouse or partner.

    New York Life’s Life Insurance Gap** survey revealed that people have an average of three years of income replacement from their life insurance coverage—but say they need 14 years. Our subsequent study of widows and widowers validated these findings, with widows wishing their life insurance proceeds lasted 11 years longer than they did. A qualified life insurance agent can help you make sure you have the right coverage for your individual needs.

  3. Create a proper savings plan. Better yet—put a solid financial plan in place.

    Couples need a financial plan that accounts for the current and future income needs of their household, and addresses what would happen with the loss of one of the partners. Here are some key questions to consider:


    • How would you meet your daily living expenses, such as housing, transportation, food, and childcare, with only one income?
    • Would you be able to continue funding long-term needs, like retirement and your children’s education?
    • With one partner gone, how would the survivor handle any long-term care needs that arise?
  4. Don’t forget that some important work you do often doesn’t come with a paycheck.

    Whether a spouse works at home or not, you probably each handle tasks that you’d need to pay for if your partner dies. Make sure your plan addresses issues like who will take care of the children, how will older parents be cared for, and who will manage household upkeep.

  5. Create an “If I’m gone” file which includes all important papers in one central location.

    The file should include account numbers and passwords, the names of any financial advisors, attorneys or other professional services providers, and information about investments and insurance, bank accounts and credit cards. You should also include mortgage and title papers if you own your home.

“It’s essential that both partners share the financial decision-making and avoid outsourcing financial decisions to just one spouse,” added Mr. Blunt. “Where outsourcing is essential is in working with a professional advisor to ensure proper financial readiness. We know that having a solid financial plan in place helps alleviate the financial burden after the loss and in turn the overall burden is lessened. Isn’t that what you would want for your loved one?”

New York Life Insurance Company, a Fortune 100 company founded in 1845, is the largest mutual life insurance company in the United States*** and one of the largest life insurers in the world. New York Life has the highest possible financial strength ratings currently awarded to any life insurer from all four of the major credit rating agencies: A.M. Best (A++), Fitch (AAA), Moody’s Investors Service (Aaa), Standard & Poor’s & (AA+).**** Headquartered in New York City, New York Life’s family of companies offers life insurance, retirement income, investments and long-term care insurance. New York Life Investments provides institutional asset management and retirement plan services. Other New York Life affiliates provide an array of securities products and services, as well as retail mutual funds. Visit New York Life’s website at www.newyorklife.com for more information.

 

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Further Reading
  • The Loss of Spouse Survey was conducted by GfK’s Public Affairs & Corporate Communications in June 2014. 
  • The Life Insurance Gap Survey was conducted by The Futures Company from April to May 2013. 
  • Based on revenue as reported by “Fortune 500 ranked within Industries, Insurance: Life, Health (Mutual),” Fortune magazine, 6/16/14. See http://money.cnn.com/magazines/fortune/fortune500/2013/faq/?iid=F500_sp_method%20 for methodology. 
  • **** Individual independent rating agency commentary as of 8/13/14
  • New York Life Investments is a service mark used by New York Life Investment Management Holdings LLC and its subsidiary, New York Life Investment Management LLC.