By Anne Hartline, chair, Surviving Spouse Advisory Council
Planning for the future includes having financial affairs in order, sharing your personal affairs with your family, and keeping important documents together in an accessible place. Discussing information about handling business after your death is one of life’s most difficult tasks. However, making preparations and sharing with your spouse, children, or the executor of your estate is a priceless gift. Frequently, spouses have the perspective that sharing this information would burden their loved one. However, avoiding these preparations creates a cruel weight that can cause much anxiety at a most difficult time.
MOAA has available several helpful publications that can be completed and shared with your family. Personal Affairs Action Guide: A Personal Inventory for Peace of Mind is a workbook for servicemembers with space to list details essential for smooth transitions for survivors. Survivor’s Planning Guide , also designed for filling in the blanks, was created for surviving spouses. These guides are available for download on MOAA’s website. Life and Premium members can order hard copies from MOAA. One of the benefits of membership in MOAA is the availability of its many publications.
In addition to income, other financial information is critical knowledge to provide for survivors. Some considerations include determining how much income will be required for your spouse to maintain your current lifestyle. Your spouse will not inherit any VA disability benefits you are receiving. If you have elected to purchase the Survivor Benefit Program, your surviving spouse will receive a maximum 55 percent of your retired pay. Consider your spouse’s personal sources of income and the penalties for being single, including possible increases in health insurance and a greater tax rate on Social Security. Examine life insurance policies for beneficiaries. If you have named a charity or another inheritor, consider whether your spouse might need that money to pay bills.
Step up! Plan and share information as a priceless gift to your spouse and family!