They are also more likely to survive major surgery, have fewer heart attacks, be less likely to have advanced cancer when diagnosed and more likely to survive it longer, have a lower chance of becoming depressed and, generally, live longer than those who remain single. Scientists have put forth various reasons for these health benefits, ranging from stronger immune systems to taking fewer risks to living a healthier lifestyle.2
Financial health can also be impacted by the dynamics within a marriage. If a husband doesn’t pay the household bills, he may not appreciate how much it costs every time he leaves the hose running after he washes the car. A wife, on the other hand, may not know where the couple’s financial accounts are held or who to consult for emergency cash should her husband become incapacitated.
That’s why we believe it’s best for both spouses to be a part of the conversation when meeting with a financial advisor. It’s important to build a relationship of trust, and that can be difficult to do if one spouse is left out of meetings and annual reviews.
While marriage is often about sharing, it may also be a good idea for each spouse to establish his and her own credit history, even if they share a credit card account, as it is likely one spouse will pass before the other.3
In this situation, the deceased spouse should be removed from any jointly owned credit cards. This is one reason it can be a good idea to have individual credit histories, so the surviving spouse isn’t impacted by the loss of the deceased spouse’s credit history. An additional advantage is that a surviving spouse generally is not liable for the outstanding debt of a deceased spouse’s solo accounts.4
In the case of second and third marriages, establishing a financial relationship between both spouses is important. For example, if one spouse moves into the home of the other, it may be a good idea to get both names put on the deed.5
Health, credit and housing aside, both spouses need to understand their investments and the household net worth. It’s not enough for wives to pay the bills while husbands manage the investments, or vice versa. Ninety percent of women are responsible for managing their finances by themselves at some point in their life6 — which is particularly unfortunate if they’re forced to take on this task during retirement without a clear understanding of how to do it.
Content prepared by Kara Stefan Communications.
1 Nicholas Bakalar. The New York Times. Dec. 27, 2016. “Marriage May Help You Survive a Stroke.” http://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/27/well/family/marriage-may-help-you-survive-a-stroke.html?_r=0. Accessed Dec. 27, 2016.
2 Robert H. Shmerling. Harvard Health. Nov. 30, 2016. “The health advantages of marriage.” http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/the-health-advantages-of-marriage-2016113010667. Accessed Dec. 27, 2016.
3 Lucy Lazarony. Credit.com. Nov. 9, 2016. “Credit Matters After the Death of a Spouse.” https://www.credit.com/credit-reports/death-of-spouse-and-credit/. Accessed Dec. 27, 2016.
5 Quentin Fottrell. MarketWatch. Dec. 7, 2016. “My husband won’t put me on the deed to the family home.” http://www.marketwatch.com/story/will-i-inherit-everything-from-my-husband-without-a-will-2016-06-24. Accessed Dec. 27, 2016.
6 Fidelity. March 23, 2016. “Women & money: How to take charge.” https://www.fidelity.com/viewpoints/personal-finance/women-manage-money. Accessed Dec. 27, 2016.
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