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Topics to Discuss with Your Spouse before You Retire

There are numerous considerations involved in planning for retirement. To ensure a comfortable life in retirement, couples should review a variety of factors to allow for an easy transition. While it may be years away, the sooner you discuss the circumstances of your retirement, the more prepared you will be for the changes in lifestyle and income that will follow retirement. Conversations about retirement should encompass a variety of topics, each of which will be unique to your personal situation:


Before retirement, spouses need to have a clear understanding of their current finances and should have a plan to meet their retirement goals.  For example, will the couples’ savings, income from retirement accounts and other assets together with anticipated Social Security benefits, yield sufficient monthly retirement income?

Financial factors to examine include the following:

  • Pension plan options
  • Healthcare benefits
  • Retirement accounts, including those from individual retirement accounts (IRAs), 401(k) and other retirement accounts
  • Social Security benefits
  • Taxation of Social Security benefits and retirement account withdrawals
  • Desired lifestyle post-retirement
  • Health of spouses

Timing of Benefits and Retirement Account Withdrawals

With IRAs, 401(k) s and other retirement accounts, there are ages when you can start taking funds without tax penalties and ages when you must begin making withdrawals.   The timing of withdrawals has income tax and other financial effects.  Additionally, the amount of the monthly Social Security benefit you will receive depends on how long you have worked, income earned and when you elect to start receiving benefits.  Generally, the later a person waits to start taking Social Security the larger the monthly payment.  For example, a publication sent by the Social Security Administration in July of 2018 showed the difference in monthly benefits depending upon the age chosen to start receiving benefits.  Assuming a $1,000.00 benefit at the full retirement age of 66, a person starting benefits at the age of 62 would receive a monthly benefit of $750.00 while delaying the start of benefits to the age of 70 would increase the monthly amount to $1,320.00.


Spouses may expect different things out of their retirement. Whether you plan to travel, volunteer and/or move to the beach affects the income and assets needed for retirement.

Health Care

It is essential to discuss health care before retirement. Health care may be provided through Medicare or an employer-based plan. If health care will be covered by Medicare, you also need to make sure you understand the rules and terms of coverage.

Planning for long-term care for one or both spouses is an important undertaking. It is prudent early on to investigate the cost of such care and ways for paying for this care you may need in or before retirement.

Estate Planning as You Enter Retirement

Retirement is a milestone. Pre-retirement is a good time to ensure you and your spouse have an up to date estate plan and current legal documents.  At a minimum, each spouse should have the following instruments:

  • Last Will and Testament
  • Power of Attorney for Financial Matters
  • Advance Medical Directive, which includes what were formerly known as medical powers of attorney and “living wills”


The estate planning attorneys at Azrael, Franz, Schwab & Lipowitz are available to help ensure that your needs are addressed in an suitable plan with proper documents that implement it.

Professional Advice

Each couple has different circumstances and expectations for their retirement.  In order to develop an appropriate and strong plan for financial security during retirement, Azrael, Franz, Schwab, and Lipowitz recommend consultation with an experienced financial planner.   If you want a referral to a professional with the necessary experience in creating retirement plans or to review or update your estate plan, please call us today.

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