NEW YORK (MainStreet) – If you're wondering who's going to make sure your wishes are met after you die, your spouse is likely the first person you should consider.
As RBC Wealth Management points out, tens of trillions of dollars are expected to change hands in the United States over the next few decades as Baby Boomers transfer their wealth to the next generation. Surviving spouses are going to play a huge role in how that wealth is distributed.
“No one likes to think about death, much less build a plan around what will happen when they are gone," says Ward Ring, director of the Wealth Consulting Group at RBC Wealth Management. “But by taking some time to develop a well-thought-out estate plan, you can ensure that the nest egg you've built over the course of a lifetime passes on to your children and grandchildren as you had envisioned.”
According to the Center on Wealth and Philanthropy at Boston College, an estimated $59 trillion — divided among heirs, charities, estate taxes and estate closing costs — will be transferred from 93.6 million American estates between 2007 and 2061. That's a lot of responsibility for spouses to take on, but John Diehl, senior vice president of strategic markets at Hartford Funds, says spouses willing to bear that responsibility offer the best hope for those with a specific set of wishes for their estate plan.
“Remember that proper planning is more than just the numbers, it is also very emotional,” he says. “Who better to understand what you would have wanted to do with the wealth that you both took a lifetime to build than your spouse?”