Typically speaking, there is often one spouse in a relationship who tends to take the lead as it comes to the finances in a household. Usually it is the higher income earner or the spouse who has more experience with money, or the most interest in it that will take the lead. In my experience the other spouse is often fine deferring these decisions but that doesn't necessarily mean that they don't want to be kept in the loop. I would also add that it can be dangerous to your plans if you don't include them!
To begin with there is the obvious one, likely their success and your family's success are also tied to your success in achieving your goals. Because of this they may want some input into what those goals are. Additionally, their personal goals and frustrations should be factored in as well. In my house, I am often reminded that "a happy wife equals a happy life" and so if I didn't take my wife Sam's plans into consideration it would certainly lead to some frustrating conversations down the road.
Self preservation aside, including your spouse in evaluating your own goals can be valuable. Again, speaking more from personal experience, your spouse can have keen insight on your goals simply from seeing things from their own perspective. In short, they might know you better than you know yourself sometimes. Many times over the years I have sat across the table from couples to hear about their retirement plans, where one will describe their master plan of golfing every day or renovating a home themselves only to have the other spouse grimace and smirk. The fact that they have been hearing these things for years and know that these plans will fizzle out in a week can sometimes be comical but the point is they can help you to be more realistic in your planning as well.
For business owners, including your spouse can often be even more important as your spouse will most likely be personally invested in the business as well. Whether or not your spouse works directly in the business or not, they have been your support network through likely some tough years and have held the rest of your lives together. Their future is likely heavily tied to the success of the business and the succession plan for it. Therefore, you may also want to include them in your business decision making as well. Again, I would not just assume that they are ok with not knowing what is going on as often people will remain quiet but are covering up certain stresses and concerns.
The fear of not knowing is often the biggest stress in people's lives but also one of the easiest to alleviate. I would even extend this to succession decisions if you are planning on bringing someone on to take over for you. Again, your spouse's future is equally tied to the future success of the business and they likely will also care about other individuals involved including employees and will want to ensure they are going to be taken care of.
The most important reason to include your spouse in planning is to ensure they know who they can count on if something were to happen to you prematurely. The last thing anyone wants for a loved one as they are grieving loss is to pile on the financial stress of not knowing whether or not they will be ok, who can they trust to talk to about it and what their options are going forward.
Again, the fear of the unknown can be paralyzing and depressing for many people and it is something that can be avoided simply by including them in the conversation. Every couple is different in how they want to plan for their future. Some do things completely separately, some work together and everything in between. No matter what your preference, it's important that you have the conversation and avoid any avoidable problems down the road.
- Grant White, CIM, CFP
Grant White is a Portfolio Manager/Investment Advisor at Endeavour Wealth Management with Industrial Alliance Securities Inc, an award-winning office as recognized by the Carson Group. Together with his partners he provides comprehensive wealth management planning for business owners, professionals and individual families.
This information has been prepared by Grant White who is a Portfolio Manager for Industrial Alliance Securities Inc. (iA Securities) and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of iA Securities. The information contained in this newsletter comes from sources we believe reliable, but we cannot guarantee its accuracy or reliability. The opinions expressed are based on an analysis and interpretation dating from the date of publication and are subject to change without notice. Furthermore, they do not constitute an offer or solicitation to buy or sell any of the securities mentioned. The information contained herein may not apply to all types of investors. The Portfolio Manager can open accounts only in the provinces in which they are registered.
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