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But how is it that these people did not see the possibility that one spouse my predecease from day one of their retirement planning?

They probably ignored that. It's unpleasant to think about.

Were they properly advised when they retired? Did they plan appropriately and then let expenses get out of control?

Were they properly advised? Did the husband receive notices, newsletters, etc. from the HR folks in his company? Probably. Did he read about social security in general? I suppose so. Did he choose the pension option that he thought would serve him best? Probably. Did he consult with his wife about this? Probably not. I don't know whether all this counts as being properly advised. (She seems not to have been properly advised though.)

Or did they fail to anticipate changes in investment performance?
They probably failed to anticipate much of anything where retirement is concerned.

Are people being well served by the advice they receive?
Probably not.

Do we have to call on govt to do everything for us? Can't we teach people to be a bit more responsible?
Everything? Probably not. (Has anyone suggested that this would be a good idea though?) As for teaching people to be a bit more responsible, that receives high marks, and teaching people to be more financially responsible has been a common theme on these boards.

The "I'll get by somehow" approach has its limitations.
Right. (But I don't think that we should assume that the people in this story had this approach. I think that, in many cases, such as perhaps this one, rather than having this approach, people have no approach at all.)

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