The retirement specialist for Prudential said that discussing retirement income should be an urgent priority for couples.
Mr Smith-Hughes said: “Having open and frequent conversations as a couple about your retirement planning is definitely an important first step. However making the right decisions on the best retirement income options, including what happens when one partner dies, can be daunting.”
His comments came as a survey conducted by Prudential of 1996 adults found that 53 per cent of couples had made no arrangements to ensure the income of a bereaved partner was protected in retirement.
More than a quarter of couples had not yet discussed what might happen in this worst-case scenario, with 21 per cent of women over 40 who plan to depend on their other half for an income particularly at risk.
Some 30 per cent of couples had discussed and agreed the best way to protect their income in retirement, but only 10 per cent of those planned to buy a joint life annuity to ensure a surviving partner would receive income if the annuitant dies.
Other findings in the report were that 19 per cent of people had made a will but not gone further in their financial planning for later life. The same number of people said they could not agree on the best way forward after they discussed options for protecting incomes in retirement.
Colin Rodger, managing director of Glasgow-based Alexander Sloan, said: “I would question that only 10 per cent buy joint life annuities. When people, and if I can say males in particular, are buying annuities they have no reason not to build their spouse into their chosen retirement option. In my experience only 10 per cent would not choose joint life.”
21 per cent - percentage of older women reliant on spouse’s retirement income
10 per cent - percentage of couples planning to buy joint life annuities
53 per cent - percentage of couples who had never discussed retirement income