Article written by: Thomas K. Williams, CFP®, CPA
Dealing with the passing of a spouse can be a paralyzing and emotional life event, leaving you shocked, saddened, and numb. Everyone reacts to loss in different ways, and the grieving process can last months or years. It is completely natural for you to be confused and, at times, disorganized. You may even feel overwhelmed with making decisions that were once discussed and agreed upon together. Unfortunately, this is a time when many financial decisions must be addressed.
Generally speaking, it is prudent to avoid making major financial decisions for at least six to twelve months after your spouse’s death. It is okay to take your time and review all options before making any significant changes that could compromise your long-term financial security. However, there are important financial matters that should be considered in the short-term. The following are some basic questions to consider when navigating this transition and preparing for your financial future:
- Do you have any investment accounts, bank accounts and other assets that need to be retitled?
- Have appropriate claims been made for life insurance and employer provided benefits?
- Does your medical insurance need to be reviewed?
- Have you contacted Social Security to determine your benefit eligibility and any applicable changes?
- Are there existing annuities that should be evaluated?
- Do any credit cards need to be retitled?
- Should any contracts, including leases, be retitled or terminated?
- Have you evaluated your debts to determine if any should be reduced or eliminated?
- Do you have an accurate understanding of your assets and expected income?
- Have you created a budget of your annual living expenses to compare against your cash flow from Social Security, pensions, investment income and any other sources of income?
- Are there any retirement accounts, including IRAs, to be rolled over to you as the surviving spouse and should beneficiaries be changed?
- Is it necessary to update your estate planning documents such as wills and powers of attorney?
The loss of a spouse can be one of the most stressful events in life. At such a difficult time, it is important to work with a trusted financial advisor who has experience guiding clients through this process and can help you evaluate your options by offering advice that’s in your best interest. You do not need to travel this road alone, nor should you. If you have questions or wish to meet with one of our wealth advisors to discuss your particular situation, please contact our office.
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