Social Security. The longer a worker waits to claim Social Security benefits, the higher they'll be. Waiting also gives the surviving spouse a higher widow's or widower's benefit. I wrote about this choice last month: "Social Security, Longevity Insurance."
Life insurance. Your budgeting session might show that you need more life insurance. A good option is a type of policy called no-lapse universal life. It's like term insurance in that it doesn't build cash value; yet, like traditional whole-life coverage, it lasts as long as you do, with no increase in premium. You could buy it new, if you're insurable, or convert your current term or expensive cash-value policies to no-lapse without a health exam.
Your papers. One good thing Charles did was to assemble his will, health care proxy, power of attorney and investment documents all in one place, explain them to Jean and leave explanatory notes behind. Other women friends do the organizing themselves, because they work, have investments or are better at money than their husbands are. Either way, it will save the surviving spouse a ton of trouble. Peace of mind is spouse protection in itself.
Jane Bryant Quinn is a personal finance expert and author of Making the Most of Your Money NOW. She writes regularly for the Bulletin.
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