How to Make “For Better or Worse” Better in Retirement

At Alpha Beta Gamma Wealth Management, we’ve worked with hundreds of couples in our 30+ years serving as financial advisors. And one thing we’ve noticed is that some husbands and wives appear to enjoy their retirements more, seem happier overall, and demonstrate poise in handling life’s unexpected events and transitions. How do they do it? Here are our tips based on direct experience.

  1. Both of You Need to Get and Stay Involved When It Comes to Your Money

Although one spouse usually ends up taking on the lion’s share of the load when it comes to paying bills and/or managing finances, if the other spouse doesn’t know what is going on, it can lead to a lot of unnecessary stress both now and in the future.

It’s not okay to just tell your partner “you have it handled.” Too often we have seen one person leave their spouse out of important financial decisions to their detriment.

And it’s not okay for you to defer all decision-making to your partner, either. Too often we have seen widows—often it’s the women who live longer—fall apart if they unexpectedly lose their spouse because they just never wanted to be involved with all that “money stuff.”

We believe each marriage partner should know exactly which accounts you have, which policies you hold, and which investments you own. Furthermore, you should both know how to access them. In fact, we recommend that you both attend all meetings with your financial advisor, accountant and attorneys together.

  1. Create a Shared Vision for Retirement

Before you retire, it’s important for you to decide how you want to spend your time. For instance, do you like to travel together? Play golf or tennis? Go hiking, swimming or biking? Have lots of parties? Cook? Garden? Visit the grandchildren every holiday? Volunteer more?

Deciding what you like to do, how much alone time you want to have, and how you want to prioritize your life together can go a long way towards retirement contentment. We recommend creating and following a weekly schedule of activities and events. Don’t make the mistake of accidentally becoming a couch potato in front of the television set while your spouse either falls into a trance beside you, or fumes in the other room. Having a plan sets your mutual expectations and keeps you both active and engaged in your marriage.

  1. Decide Together About Your Estate Plan, and Keep It Up-to-Date

It is especially important to decide how you want your assets distributed if you have children from previous marriages. But an estate plan includes more than tax-advantaged wealth transfer.

Estate plans also include documents that enable each spouse to handle health care decisions and make financial arrangements if one of you suddenly becomes incapacitated. Not enough couples have their final documents in place, and too many end up with the wrong executors, beneficiaries, or trustees named because they neglected to review their documents on a regular basis through the years as their families changed. Trust us, you do not want to end up in probate court or fighting with extended family or hospital staff at critical times. We can help.



At Alpha Gamma Beta Wealth Management, we offer retirement planning that goes far beyond what you may have experienced from others. Call us in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida at (561) 207-6399.