"The average life expectancy for Canadians at age 65 is 20 years, with women outliving men by approximately eight years" - Kristin Doucet, Editor's Letter, Forum Magazine, May 2012
"The Canadian census reveals that close to one in three women above the age of 65 lives alone" - Peter Watson, Inside Halton.com.
One morning a couple of weeks ago we got on the topic of credit—credit cards, credit scores, that sort of thing. Our teacher, Ruth, related how shortly after her husband died she needed to put a large item on her credit card—a card they had held jointly but of which her now-deceased husband was the primary card-holder.
She found, to her chagrin, that the card was now useless and she had a hard time getting another one because of her non-existent credit score. She was eventually able to produce that score as a result of other financial transactions. However, her advice to us was:
1. Get yourself named as the person responsible for some of the regular payments you make for your household (hydro, telephone, internet) in order to establish a credit history and credit score.
2. Get your own credit card for two reasons: 1] to establish a credit history and score, and 2] so you have a credit card to use should your husband die suddenly.
The day of our discussion I checked with our credit card company and discovered that Ruth was absolutely right. If my husband died, the card we use jointly but of which he is the primary card-holder would be no good to me. I have since applied for my own card. Might as well head off one potential nasty surprise at the pass!
What other nasty financial surprises could be lurking down the road for someone newly widowed?