HAVE you considered what would happen to you and your children if your spouse died tomorrow?
Nothing is more stressful than dealing with a spouse who is not only traumatised by bereavement but petrified by financial woes.
The ones who suffer most are the women who gave up their jobs and the possibility of furthering their careers in favour of raising families.
Their husbands become sole breadwinners and when they die these women are left adrift at sea.
Even now, when women earn more and tend to return to work shortly after having babies, many of them still leave their own and their children's financial future in their husbands' hands.
If only they would realise that a wedding band on the finger does not turn a man into a financial genius!
Women often become victims because they do not get involved in long-term planning.
Women need to take control so you must ensure you know the answers to the following questions:
lDo you know where important documents like the will, marriage contract, insurance policies are located?
lAre you the beneficiary of your spouse's will?
lA will should be relooked at every two years to ensure that it keeps pace with your changing circumstances and sometimes a change is needed in executors and trustees.
lThe important question you need to answer is how much money will you have in the event of your spouse's death and once these funds are invested, will it provide you with sufficient income for you and your family?
You also need to take future inflation into account and that the cost of living will increase.
lHow much is enough? One million rand sounds a lot, but if you invest it in a savings account at 7percent it will provide an income of R5000 a month after tax.
This might just be enough to live on if your house and car are paid off and your children are at a state school. It won't allow you to invest in a tax efficient way or venture into a high risk, high return investment.
lHow should you invest so that this money will grow?
It is vitally important that you discuss this with your spouse, taking inflation into consideration. If you invest in an ordinary savings account at 7percent your money will lose half its purchasing power in 10 years' time.
The prospect of being forced to go out to work is the greatest fear in some women's lives. It would be wise to keep learning new skills. If you haven't kept abreast of all the changes in technology this could prove very challenging. Knowing how to use a computer is the minimum requirement for an office job these days.
None of us can afford to take the view that "being left on my own will never happen to me". You and your children's financial future without your spouse, could hinge on these four points:
lKnowing the location of documentation.
lHaving a good idea of how much you will have to live on.
l The writer is a director of Bryan Hirsch Colley