Anniversaries are a time to celebrate and reflect, but they’re also a good time to share information. Consider Stanley and Ruth, who have been married for 42 years. Every year just before their wedding anniversary, they get out the photo album and spend an evening strolling down memory lane. They also get out their “financial album” and spend time reacquainting themselves with where they stand financially.
During most of the year, Stanley is responsible for making investment decisions, making sure life insurance is adequate and having repairs done on the house. Ruth pays all the bills and balances the checkbook each month and prepares the income tax returns. Although each consults the other, both have come to depend on the other to handle their particular “chores."
But Stanley and Ruth both know that some day, one of them will be left alone to handle all the financial jobs. To make sure that Ruth knows how they stand financially, where their money is invested and how much life insurance will be available, Stanley reviews these matters during their “financial anniversary celebrations.” Ruth, in turn, shows Stanley the budget and goes over the past year’s tax return with him. They also get out the copies of their wills to see if any changes are needed. Every two or three years, the couple meets with their attorney to see if tax or state law changes affect their estate plans in any way.
Both Stanley and Ruth realize that being the surviving spouse will not be easy, and there will be numerous lifestyle adjustments to be made. But they can take action now to prepare themselves for the future. By reviewing the family finances together each year, the transition from a husband or wife to a widower or widow should be a little easier when the time comes.