This weekend’s Wall Street Journal came with a special report called “Encore: A Guide to Retirement Planning & Living.” The cover story of the section was titled ‘Can We Talk?’ The 10 most important questions you and your spouse should ask each other about retirement—and probably haven’t (sounds like a blog post title doesn’t it?). This particular article was written by Glenn Ruffenach, who also authored the recently-published book The Wall Street Journal Complete Retirement Guidebook (Affiliate Link). Although I have not read the book, I did spend some time looking through it at the book store and was impressed by it. Someday I plan to read it.
Anyway, the ten questions that retiring couples should ask each other (with my thoughts added) are:
“Do we really want to retire, and if so, when?”
That’s a great question to start off with. Lots of people may retire from one career and immediatly begin a new one. I think we are going to see a lot of this as the Boomers begin retiring en mass.
“What is our vision of retirement — and do we share the same vision?”
Golf all the time? Travel? Gardening? Adventure? Entering the mission field? It’s important to make sure both spouses are preparing for the same retirement.
“Where do we want to retire?”
Keep the same place or sell it and move somewhere else? That’s a big, big question.
“What’s our strategy for building and preserving a nest egg?”
This question is best approached 10 or more years from retirement while there’s still lots of time to save up for retirement. However, this may not be possible if you start planning late. This might be a great time to sit down with a fee-only financial planner to discuss your options.
“What assets do we have for retirement — and are they invested in the most beneficial ways to achieve our goals?”
This question seems to go hand-in-hand with the previous question. Once again, a fee-only planner can help you walk through these questions.
“How much money will we need to support our lifestyle in retirement?”
Very tough question. Retirement means that your spending will change but not necessarily get cheaper, depending on what you do during retirement.
“Do we have an estate plan — and where is it?”
Most likely, if you are approaching retirement, you have a substantial estate. If you haven’t done so yet, now would be a great time to meet with your financial planner and estate attorney in order to plan your estate. Failing to plan can cause lots of headaches for spouses and extended family once you’re gone.
“What will our legacy be?”
In other words, what do you want to pass on your friends, family, and charity when you leave this world?
“What kind of relationships — personal and financial — do we want to have with our children and parents in later life?”
How will you take care of your parents when they are too old to take care of themselves? What about your kids? Will they need financial support? Hopefully not, but you never know.
“How will each of us approach, and manage, getting older?”
To me, this is the toughest question of all because none of us really know how we are going to react to getting older until we cross that bridge. I suppose it might be a good idea to write a retirement mission statement and state in advance how you anticipate handling getting older.
One question that’s not included in this list that think should be is: “Do we need to purchase long-term care insurance?” Don’t go to a long-term care salesperson in order to answer this question! Instead, ask your financial planner. Chances are, you might not need to worry about long-term care insurance if you have substantial savings.