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Couples Lack Communication on Retirement Goals

Less than half of couples jointly handle retirement savings investment decisions, according to a new study by Fidelity Investments. The study found that just 41% of married couples make joint decisions on managing retirement savings.

This communication gap may explain why there is a lack of trust in the other spouse’s ability to take over financial matters. Just 17% of couples are confident that either spouse could assume responsibility of their joint retirement finances. Only 35% of wives say they are completely confident in their ability to assume full responsibility, versus 72% of husbands. A gender gap also exists in terms of who manages the finances, with 37% of husbands describing themselves as the primary retirement financial decision-maker versus 8% of wives.

The study also found disagreement on several related issues. Nearly two-thirds (62%) don’t see eye-to-eye on when to retire. Nearly half (47%) differ on whether to continue working in retirement. One-third (33%) disagree on where to retire, or simply don’t know.

Fidelity suggests discussing 10 questions to help resolve the communication gap:

  1. At what age do you want to retire?
  2. Do either of you want to work in retirement?
  3. What type of lifestyle do you envision in retirement?
  4. Where do you want to live?
  5. What does your financial picture currently look like for retirement?
  6. Have you created a retirement income plan?
  7. Have you factored in future health care costs?
  8. Do you know where all of your assets and important documents are?
  9. Have you named beneficiaries?
  10. Do you understand how your Social Security and Medicare benefits will work?

We think these are all good topics to talk about, especially since they can help with planning decisions.

We also encourage everyone to take note of question eight, which addresses the location of assets and documents. Make sure both your spouse and the future executor of your estate know where to find them. It may sound simple, but this information can be invaluable for making sure your finances are properly handled when you are unable to do so.

Source: “Fidelity Couples Study Finds Husbands and Wives Not Having Critical Conversations Needed to Achieve Retirement Goals” and “Top 10 Retirement Questions for Couples,” Fidelity.com, based on the 2011 Fidelity Investments Couples Retirement Study.


Discussion

Chris from NJ posted over 2 years ago:

Actually, I'm a little surprised that the numbers are this high. This is a topic that requires an increase in focus. The 10 questions are right on...now, for a suggestion of how to handle them...that would be beneficial too. Accounts, locations, websites, and passwords...does anyone write these down? I've considered compiling a file for my wife with all of this info, and step by step how-to info, but this is dangerous to have all in one place.


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