Every year there are about 33,000 widows and about 16,000 widowers in our country. When you’re in the prime of your life with a busy job and kids at home, it seems unlikely that you or your partner will die. Yet more than one in five who lose their partner have not yet retired. How do you keep yourself out of trouble financially?
Women in particular suffer financially when their partner dies, shows the latest survey from the statistics agency CBS from 2021. Widowers who have not yet retired often continue to work stubbornly. Their purchasing power even increased by an average of 9 percent, the survey showed. But women under 65 who become widows will earn less and live more on the (survivor’s) pension. In terms of purchasing power, they lost an average of 10 per cent.
Especially younger couples with rented houses in the private sector risk major financial problems in the event of death, Monique Wientjes knows. She is a financial life planner at Wientjes Advies and a member of Life Planners Coöperatie Nederland (LPCN). She remembers two men in their forties, whose husband, who had just started as a freelancer, died suddenly.
“He and his wife rented an expensive house, and they both had children from a previous relationship. But there was no survivor’s pension, no prenuptial agreement or cohabitation contract, and no will. As a result, the lion’s share of the family’s income suddenly disappeared, while they high burdens went through. You really don’t wish that on anyone.”
A few tens
Couples who rent expensively should, like home owners with mortgages, take out life insurance (OVR), Wientjes believes. “From a few tens a month, you avoid a very large risk.”
She has three tips for taking out: “Take out the insurance on both partners’ lives and choose a term up to the age of 70. If you no longer need the policy before then, you can simply cancel it. Do not opt out for declining benefits, if you still have young children. It’s cheaper, but the benefit then drops every year, while children studying can be very expensive.”
A collective policy can be beneficial
“As soon as a child arrives, you should definitely check whether your family can still cope if one of the partners dies,” says Jaap van der Meer of Van der Meer Lifestyleplanners.
If you live together without a contract, you are legally strangers to each other.
He broadly recommends choosing the sum assured for a life insurance policy. “The remaining partner may have to live off it for ten or fifteen years.” Also ask your pension fund or employer if they offer group time insurance, he advises. “It can be more beneficial, because then you will always be accepted, regardless of your health.”
Provide an updated will
“Also make sure you have a cohabitation contract and a will that are up to date,” says Van der Meer. “If you live together without a contract, you are legally strangers to each other. As a survivor, you basically inherit nothing. If that is not the intention, you must arrange it through the notary. You can also, for example, register that the remaining partner can continue to live in the house.’
Van der Meer also sometimes sees wills that refer to a previous relationship. “For example, it says that the spouse inherits while you have started living with a new partner after your divorce. A cohabitant is not a spouse, so your new partner does not inherit anything.”
If it goes wrong
Those who lose a large amount of income following a death may be able to fall back on a benefit from the Ordinary Survivors Act (Anw). This is a maximum of 1,417 euros gross per month plus a maximum of 914 euros gross per month for a minor child living at home.
“Make sure you also get everything you’re entitled to, such as allowances, the energy allowance or exemption from, for example, property tax,” says Van der Meer. “If you forget that, an easy life can suddenly turn into a more difficult life. There are countless examples of that.”