Study Reveals Financial Impact of a Spouse’s Premature Death

According to a recent study, the average financial recovery time for a widow or widower is four to five years after the death of a spouse. The MetLife study, entitled “Financial Impact of Premature Death,” examines the financial impact associated with the premature death of a spouse. Results of the survey indicate most Americans remain underinsured and are often required to make significant life changes when confronted with a spouse’s death.

In early August 2003, approximately 1,000 widows and widowers were surveyed to compile the data for the study. Each of the participants had lost a spouse within a period of 6 months to 5 years before the survey. The deceased spouse was between 30 and 55 years old at the time of death.

Here are some of the survey’s findings:

-More than one-third of the surviving spouses received no life insurance proceeds.

-Two-thirds of the spouses reported the death of a spouse had a “major” or “devastating” financial impact on their lives.

-Two-thirds of spouses that received insurance proceeds received less than three times the annual income of the deceased spouse. (Typical recommendations call for insurance replacement equal to 7 to 10 times the deceased spouse’s yearly income.)

-One-fourth of beneficiaries received benefits that replaced less than one year of the deceased’s annual income.

-Less than half of spouses who received insurance proceeds felt the coverage was “adequate.”

-Almost half of surviving spouses stated their financial situation was “somewhat worse” or “much worse” after 3-5 years had passed since their spouse’s death.

-Nearly half of deceased spouses lacked a will.

A study summary can be found online at at the MetLife Research Center.