Help Your Surviving Wife Survive

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Let me share something with you that’s been bothering me for many years.

I’ve been working in the financial services and insurance industry for 50 years, but this experience I have goes back far beyond that, back to when I was in my 30s. This message is intended for men, but ladies, I hope you will take a minute or two to read it as well.

I frequently tell people that God wired us all different. There are some things I’m skilled at that my wife isn’t, while there are many things, she is skilled at, that I am not. One thing I am skilled at that my wife isn’t is finances.

Over the years, I have met plenty of women who were far more astute with finances than their husbands. But I can honestly say, more often than not, men tend to run the show when it comes to the household cash flow.

I was on a business trip to New Mexico in 1991 when my office called to let me know I had an urgent message from my mom and dad’s house. I returned the call to find out that my dad had passed away. I was on the next flight to the Bay Area, where he and my mom lived. Within a few minutes after entering their house, I asked my mom, “did dad have life insurance?” I’ll never forget the look on her face. She just shrugged her shoulders with tears rolling down her face.

Over the past 21 years, because of the business I’m in, I have witnessed an estimated 50 cases of spousal survivorship. Quite often, when the wife is the survivor, she begins suffering from financial unknowns, on top of mourning her husband’s death.

Men, if you want to minimize your wife’s suffering if she survives you after your death, then help her understand your entire financial picture, and do it TODAY! Don’t wait a day longer. You may think you are leading by handling all the finances in your family, but if she is in the financial dark, you could end up hurting her, more than you are helping her.

I sit down with my wife every 3-6 months and review all our finances that would impact her if she survived me. I have learned over the years that repetition helps her. I remind her where our annuity and life insurance files are, and who to call. I have written instructions in each file. I remind her that our Fixed Indexed Annuities provide income that will last her entire life, no matter how long she lives. I also remind her that they protect from market volatility, so she won’t have to worry about losses of her retirement assets during times of market downturns. I keep everything on a spreadsheet because I’ve found that format is easiest for her to process. This spreadsheet also shows when our life insurance will term out and what the death benefit is on each policy.

Guys, at the risk of hurting your feelings, this is nothing to be macho about nothing. Make sure she understands her financial picture without you, as much as you understand it with her.

I guarantee you, you do this, and she will shed a million tears when you are gone, instead of two million tears.

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