Topics to tackle if you want to survive retirement with your spouse

A large number of retired Australians are independently navigating their way through their retirement finances without consulting their partners.

Research from global asset management firm Franklin Templeton found that only 54 per cent of Australian retirees with a spouse or partner said they coordinated their retirement planning with them prior to retiring.

This is a remarkable statistic when you consider that marriage is a partnership and that all your major life decisions prior to retirement were probably jointly made.

Read more: How a marriage needs to adapt to retirement

Here are just some of the topics you should discuss with your partner prior to retiring.

When to retire
Should you retire at the same time so that you can enjoy your time together? Most couples retire at different times due to some form of age gap, but others, often working beyond pension age, prefer to retire together and start their golden years with a big trip.

It might suit you to retire the minute that you reach pension age, but talking with your partner about the prospect of working longer to secure your finances for longer, is at least a discussion that you should entertain, especially if you are not going to qualify for a pension because your partner is still working.

Read more: Why ageing populations are an asset

Where to retire
As you approach retirement or during the early phase of retirement, the perfect opportunity presents itself to reconsider your location and whether it is going to fit in with this new phase of your life.

Some of the things you will want to discuss together are how close you want to be to your family members and how close you will want to be to public transport and health services. A tree change may be nice in the early stages of retirement, but if you start having health problems later in life, there are reasons to be closer to important services.

Read more: It’s never too late to rediscover past passions

What you are going to do
You are both going to have extra time on your hands, so you should start devoting some time to what you are going to do with it. Travelling together is usually a fun place to start, but you need to make sure you are on the same page with where you want to go and what you want to see. Even if you are not on the same page with where you want to go, you will need to work out a way to decide how many times you travel in a year and who gets to call the destination in any particular time frame.

My parents both love travel, but dad likes cruises and mum would prefer less frequent but longer time away in Europe. They take cruises more often, but make sure that European trips are taken regularly enough so that they both get what they want out of the experience.

Travel isn’t the only thing to do, either. Talk about some new activities you might like to try together in retirement and how you might like to branch out into new social circles.

Financial plans
Some of the things that you need to keep in mind when you are working out your financial plans are how much money you will need in retirement and how much money you will have.

Other matters you will need to work on here are your retirement investment options, your risk profile, superannuation plan, any implications of your investments and the level of government assistance that may be available to you in your situation.

Estate planning
Revise your wills if needed, especially if your personal or family circumstances change. This is also a good time to lock in an advanced care directive and end of life plan while you are both presumably fit and healthy. These are the kinds of discussions you should have early, rather than leaving it until it is too late.

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Written by Ben