4 Questions to Plan for Retirement Together

When planning retirement with a spouse, there’s plenty to think about. There may be some differences in each person’s vision for retirement, and you may have to find common ground. Another thing to remember is that your partner’s retirement goals may change over time. Five years ago, they may have wanted to stop working for good, now they may be open to freelance or consulting jobs. Navigating these issues may take some time. Start by sitting down with your partner and tackling these questions.

How will we spend our time after retiring?

Think of all the activities that have been on your leisure to-do list for years. Golf, painting, travel, dance, taking classes – retirement opens up opportunities to pursue the activities you love and some new ones you’ve never tried. But first it’s important for spouses to get on the same page about how they want to spend their retirement years. It may help for each person to answer the question separately, and then compare notes with their partner. Approach each other’s plans with curiosity and focus on common ground rather than differences.

Where will we live?

This is a big question for all couples and may dictate many aspects of retired life. Some people will want to retire abroad, others may remain stateside but move closer to children or other family members. Some will want to age in place while others may prefer the convenience of an assisted living facility or retirement community. Where you live will also inform your cost of living, healthcare, and leisure activities available to you. Couples may even want to downsize.  For all these reasons, it may be a good idea to ask this question early in the retirement planning process.

Do we have enough saved to support the lifestyle we want?

There are countless factors that will inform your retirement savings, including retirement hobbies, cost of living, medical expenses, and much more. A financial planner may be able to help you assess whether you’re on track and how you can reposition your savings and investments if needed.  An expert will take into consideration your current income and expenses, your lifestyle, as well as other factors such as inflation, to help you plan.

Do we have an estate plan?

An estate plan outlines directives for your assets and yourself in case you get sick or pass on. You may already have worked on a will; this is a core element of an estate plan that details how you want your money and assets divided among your heirs. You can also include any instructions for the care of minor children, dependents, and pets. An estate plan also includes a living will which allows you to clearly state what kind of care you would want to receive if you become ill or have an accident.

As part of your estate plan, you would name beneficiaries who would receive access to your bank, brokerage, and retirement accounts after you pass. You should also confirm that beneficiaries named for any life insurance policies you may have such as whole life insurance or universal life insurance match what’s in your estate planning documents. You can include durable powers of attorney in your estate plan. When you give someone power of attorney, you’re essentially enabling them to act on your behalf if you become ill or incapacitated. Lastly, your estate plan can include a letter of intent addressing the executor of your will. This letter can include an overview of your wishes for your assets.