Thinking ahead: Social Security survivor’s benefits and your estate plans

| Feb 17, 2021 | Estate Planning

Your spouse has always maintained the home and cared for the children while you concentrated on building your assets or creating your business — and the arrangement is exactly what you want it to be.

What happens, however, if you pass away? Planning for your non-working spouse’s future can be more complicated that you realize.

When is a widow or widower entitled to Social Security survivor’s benefits?

In general, a widow or widower cannot collect their deceased spouse’s retirement benefits until they are a minimum of 60 years of age.

If you die while you still have a young child or your spouse cares for your disabled child, however, your spouse may immediately be entitled to widow or widower’s benefits. Those benefits will end, however, once the child no longer needs care or reaches 16 years of age.

The only other exception is when your spouse is disabled. If they were disabled prior to your death or their disability starts within seven years of your death, they can qualify for disabled widow’s or widower’s benefits once they are 50 years of age.

Either way, there could be a significant gap in time where your spouse’s ability to access both the financial benefits of your Social Security retirement and the health care benefits that come with Medicare is limited.

What can you do to ensure your spouse’s future comfort?

There are a multitude of ways to protect your spouse’s future and make sure that they have the assets they need if you precede them in death. Speaking with an experienced attorney about your concerns, your goals and your assets is the first step to crafting an effective estate plan.