The importance of women taking an active role in a couple’s financial planning represents more than just jockeying over who gets to control the checking account.

Women on average live longer than men, which means they are going to need more money in retirement or else risk outliving their savings. That means they have a lot at stake. And women – men, too, for that matter – often don’t realize just how long retirement might last. If you retire around age 65, it’s possible your retirement is going to last 25 or 30 years.

The death of a spouse can pose numerous financial difficulties. First, the survivor has to deal with the emotional issues associated with grieving, which means some financial decisions may be put on hold.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing. You don’t want to rush into any decisions you don’t have to make immediately.

But it won’t take long to start experiencing some of the financial consequences. If both spouses were drawing Social Security, one of those monthly checks is about to disappear. If the spouse had a pension, the amount of the check may be reduced for the survivor, or it could be eliminated.

We have made improving the retirement outlook for women a significant part of our work. We just recently launched a division of our company called Woman’s Worth (www.womans-worth.com/scottsdale) designed to focus on not only a woman’s finances, but also her physical and mental health, and her total well-being.

There are plenty of things worth knowing about finances before and after a spouse dies, from long-term care planning to tax minimization planning. Here are just three that women should keep in mind:

It’s vital that women appropriately manage what they have. It needs to last and provide the retirement lifestyle they’re after. iBi

Cristina Acosta and Nancy Fromm are co-owners of Money Wise (www.moneywiseaz.com), a Scottsdale, Ariz.-based financial-planning firm that helps create retirement-income strategies for people nearing or in retirement.