A common financial planning technique is to run their plan out to age 95 for each spouse to make sure the plan works. However, it is unlikely that both Dave and Barb will live to age 95, leaving just a 3-year gap for Barb to handle financial decisions on her own when she may be in failing health at the end of her life.
Using a randomly selected age 95 for both Barb and Dave doesn’t customize the plan in any way to what their actual experience will look like.
Barb and Dave, like most people, want to make decisions that are logical and based on facts, but this doesn’t exist when using a randomly selected lifespan applied equally that has zero consideration for the unique experience Barb and Dave will face during the course of life. This is especially true for women who have a high likelihood of spending years without their spouse – they want a real, personalized plan.
One attempt now used by some financial advisors at getting closer to a more personalized plan includes the use of a generic life table published by the Social Security Administration to determine average expected duration of life based only on a person’s age and gender.
Using current methods and base, the life expectancy of Dave is estimated to be 18.4 years and the Barb is estimated to live 23.3 years. This means Dave can expect to live to age 83.4 and Barb to age 85.3, leaving the Barb to plan for life on her own for about 5 years because the Dave is 3 years older to begin with.
Helping Barb put a plan in place to get her comfortably through 5 years is a manageable task and wouldn’t come with a great deal of anxiety for her – that is, if they both fall in line with the averages. The problem is, like most people, Barb and Dave aren’t average – so a plan like this has a low chance of achieving a positive scenario.
Now let’s look at how different the plan would be using aging science. Using a series of scientifically determined questions to estimate lifespan and healthspan, we can get a much better understanding of the experience Barb and Dave are more likely to encounter.
Dave has a high school education, is a former smoker and doesn’t get any exercise to speak of. These things have been scientifically determined to be predictors of a shorter life than average. So, instead of a base table life expectancy of 18.4 years, Dave has a likely lifespan of just 14.2 years and can expect to live to age 79.2. On the other hand, Barb has a family history of longevity, has a college degree and exercises regularly. These things have proven to be predictors of a longer life. So, instead of the base lifespan of 23.3 years, Barb can expect to live 27.8 years to just shy of age 90.
This is significant!
What we have just revealed is that Barb is likely to outlive Dave by about 14 years rather than the 5 years estimated by using generic tables. This requires a totally different retirement plan.
Imagine the emotion a Barb is feeling with this newfound knowledge and the comfort afforded both as they plan their finances based on what is unique about them, rather than assuming they’re just like everyone else.
Barb is more conservative with investments and Dave has been in charge of the family finances and investments, so imagine the anxiety Barb may be experiencing when she realizes she may be on her own to make decisions without her husband for 14 years or more instead of 5 years.
This is the power of the convergence of aging science and financial planning. Better planning by making it personal.