When it comes to older couples, either the husband or wife may be ready to retire first.

One spouse may enjoy working more than the other, or one may be ready to spend time traveling or visiting family.

But this sets up a number of financial and emotional situations that couples should deal with before either one retires, says Dan Keady, senior director in the advice and planning strategy group at TIAA, a nationwide financial services organization.

“When one person in a couple retires ahead of the other, it puts the advisor in a unique position to build more trust and a deeper relationship with the couple, especially if the advisor had been dealing more with one partner than the other in the past,” Keady says.

“The advisor should help the couple build a financial bridge over the transition time while one person is retired and the other still working,” he says.

The couple needs to make a written financial plan, if they have not done that before, including Social Security benefits and health-care coverage and Medicare. Social Security has many options for benefits and the right combination needs to be selected because it is a decision that can be made only once.

“Does the retiring person want to collect or let the benefits grow while the couple lives off of one salary?” Keady asked. “Will both people be covered under the working spouse’s health insurance?”

The working spouse should continue contributing to the employer-sponsored retirement fund. If one spouse is retiring early, some retirement accounts may not be accessible yet.

“All of this has to be carefully coordinated,” he says, “and money has to be drawn down in the most tax-efficient way. Debts should be paid off as much as possible before one retires.”

And then there is the emotional side of the retirement equation.

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