Saturday, November 24, 2018

The Average age of a widow or widower

According to Census Canada, the average age of widowhood in Canada is just 56.  For men, the average age of becoming a widower is 65. What's more, a large percentage (43%) of Canadian seniors are single.  In the USA the average age of widowhood is 55, and 75 percent of women will be widowed by the age of 56. 

This is a scary statistic, as more boomers get closer and closer to retirement age, it becomes critical for women to prepare for the impending loss of their partner. And yet, boomers are not prepared for the loss of a spouse. If you do lose a spouse here is some ideas to help you cope and deal realistically with your situation.

Bills come due, even if someone has died, so pay those bills that you get following the death of your spouse. Let the government know your spouse has died so they can send the final tax bill to the executor.

Review your extended health insurance if you have it and examine and contact any life insurance companies you may have a policy with so they can start processing your claim. There may have deadlines, so deal with them quickly.

Don't be rushed into any decisions following the loss of your partner. What seems like a good idea could come back to haunt you after a few years. Find the time and energy to talk with your financial planner, if you do not have one, talk to the bank or close friends for a referral to a planner. 

Some spouses will take on the role of executor of your spouse's estate. If you take on this role, understand the responsibilities you have taken on by being the executor. You need time to process and grieve, leave the details of being the executor of the estate to another person. 

To protect yourself if you chose to be the executor you need to follow these formal steps closely, including the following:

  • Get a Clearance Certificate from Revenue Canada. It will state that all taxes have been paid. While this isn't required it is strongly recommended.
  • You have to also guard or secure against anticipated loss if you make a mistake so it is recommended that you ask the beneficiaries for an indemnification agreement. 
  • Consult a legal representative concerning debt repayment.
  • If you have the knowledge that the estate may not have enough money to pay all debts, don't wait to seek professional advice.

Boomer women need to prepare for being a widow, sooner rather than later according to Census Canada. 

If you have not done so, consider making all accounts jointly held. By having joint access to accounts, assets including your family home (if you own a home) are less likely to be walled off and subject to a lengthy probate process.

Ensure you are aware of all accounts, investments and debts. Keep account numbers and the contact information for your financial advisors and life insurance agents or company handy.

Widows are victims for clever salesmen, frauds, and sometimes, mistaken children. Don't let others convince you to do something or make a decision you are not comfortable with at the time.   There have been times where family members push sensitive buttons in order to influence choices, to try and take advantage of the situation. 

How to handle this?  Remove the temptation by referring discussions over money to your financial planner. They can handle any uncomfortable confrontations concerning money. 

Have you prepared a will, if not do it now? When you create your will, make sure both your will and your spouse's will leave no room for misunderstandings. The last thing your partner wants is for the estate to tear the family apart.

You will have a lot to worry about following the death of your partner; don't let money become one of the issues you have to deal with when your spouse passes. Talk to your partner about your financial situation today, because no matter what is going on today you never know what tomorrow might bring,

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