Open letter to South Africa’s students‚ universities and government‚ represented by Minister in the .
While a retirement planning is a long-term process, nothing is more concerning than the question: "What would happen to you and your children if your husband died tomorrow?" It is upsetting when dealing with a woman who is not only traumatised by bereavement, but also petrified about the financial consequences.
Women who suffer most are those who gave up their jobs (and possibilities of furthering their careers) in favour of raising their families. Their husbands became the sole breadwinners, paid all the bills and made the investments. So when they die, their spouses are left totally at sea.
Even nowadays with women earning more and are inclined to return to work shortly after maternity leave, many still leave their and their children's financial future in their husbands' hands.
I urge women to take control and to involve themselves in long-term financial planning for the family. Many couples do not broach the subject because, after all, "It will never happen to me".
Both spouses should familiarise themselves with the following questions:
Do you know where important documents like the will, your marriage contract, insurance policies and share certificates are located?
Are you the beneficiary of your spouse's will? Many women do not know whether their husbands have a will, let alone its contents. They do not even have wills of their own. A will should be taken out and read every two years to ensure that it keeps pace with changing circumstances.
What benefits will you receive through your husband's company? For example, does the family's medical benefit cease on his death? If not, how much will it cost to maintain? Will his pension be paid to you? If so, how much will it be? Will it be paid to you for the rest of your life? Will it cease if you remarry?
How much money will you have and will it be enough to maintain your lifestyle?
How should you invest so that the money grows? With inflation, one should consider that part of the inheritance be invested to allow for growth. It is crucial that you discuss this with your spouse.
Will you have to find a job? The prospect of being forced to go out to work is the greatest fear for some women. It is wise for a non-working woman to keep learning new skills, just in case.
No one can afford to take the view that "being left on my own will never happen to me". The family's financial future without the breadwinner could hinge on forward planning, with the full understanding of how much you will need to live on in the event of death. Thereafter, one needs to invest wisely for both income and future growth to hedge against inflation.
l The writer is a director of Pioneer Financial Planning. Visit www.pioneer.co.za or e-mail email@example.com