How To Manage Your Finances Following the Loss of a Spouse
Losing a partner unexpectedly not only results in significant emotional pain, but also brings with it several financial implications and obligations.
These practical details are probably the last things you would want to think about at such a time. They are, however, essential, and often need to be dealt with immediately.
However, you don’t have to do it all alone. The Entrust Wealth Partners team is always available to help you and your loved ones through this process.
Knowing what steps to take and what to be aware of in this kind of scenario could help mitigate some stress. So, we’ve also pulled together some information that may help should you suddenly find yourself in this position.
What To Do if You Find Yourself in Charge of Your Family’s Finances
1. Take Stock of Your Financial Situation
As the reality of your new situation sets in, you’ll want to start by taking stock of where you stand financially. Your awareness of your financial situation will depend on your level of involvement in your joint finances prior to the loss of your spouse. This level of awareness will then dictate how much work you’ll have to do to get up to speed.
This process of taking stock normally includes identifying your assets, debts, income, and expenses. From there, you can create a budget and devise a plan that will allow you to move forward financially on your own.
2. Consider Seeking Professional Financial Advice
Taking stock of your finances, while essential, may not be what you feel like doing, especially at the start of your grieving process. A financial advisor can help you navigate complex financial issues when you don’t have the headspace to do it alone.
They can also help you create a sustainable, long-term wealth management plan that aligns with your goals, values, and current situation. Entrust Wealth Partners advisors have considerable experience in this area.
3. Don’t Rush Into Any Major Financial Decisions
The aftermath of losing a spouse is not the time to make major financial decisions.
Grieving can have a big impact on your mental state. It’s common for your memory to be impacted, sleep can deteriorate, and your attention span is likely to be short. This all makes decision-making extremely difficult.
This means it’s not the best time to sell the family home, make a move to another state, or retire to a different country. You’ll need time to settle into your new reality, then you’ll be able to make big decisions with more mental and emotional clarity.
The same caution should be applied if you receive a death benefit from life insurance. Rather than rushing into a decision, put some thought into it first about how to best use those funds.
4. Take Care of Yourself
Dealing with financial matters can be stressful and overwhelming, especially when you're grieving.
Self-care habits like getting enough sleep, eating well, and gentle exercise can help you process your thoughts. However, it’s important to also give yourself grace during this period if you are unable to carry out these practices right away due to your grief.
Allow yourself to lean on friends and family for support. You can also make use of financial help from your Entrust Wealth Partners advisor and grief support groups locally and online. Seeking help from a therapist or counselor can also help you process your loss.
5. Protect Yourself Against Any Financial Scams
Sadly, it’s not uncommon for unethical financial salespeople, or outright scam artists, to target recently widowed individuals.
They often assume, or know, that widows have received death benefits and reach out with an attractive investment opportunity. These opportunities may look too good to be true and this is because they are.
Having recently lost a spouse puts you in a vulnerable position, and your ability to think clearly can be hampered. Therefore, it’s not hard to fall prey to someone with an offer that could bring you financial security and well-being.
Here is where having a qualified financial advisor can be invaluable as you can run all financial proposals past them to check how sound they are.
6. Don’t Be a “Purse” for Others
There is sometimes a perception that when a widow comes into a significant amount of money, they can easily, and should, share the wealth around.
Whether this is true or not is irrelevant. You shouldn't suddenly feel like you need to become a purse to your family, friends, and acquaintances and start handing out money.
If you do want to give money and items to your loved ones, that is perfectly reasonable. However, this should be planned for, budgeted, and taken into account in the context of your overall finances.
Things You Can Do Now To Prepare
- Be proactive about estate planning. Estate planning and wills are something you should think about while everyone is present and well.
Having a will and estate plan in place means that your assets will be distributed according to your wishes. This process will also be more straightforward for your loved ones, and you’ll have confidence that they’ll be taken care of after you’ve gone.
- Work on your record keeping. Keeping all of you and your partner's paperwork in order can make it much easier when you need to access it quickly. Following the sudden loss of a loved one, your thinking may be foggy, so you don’t want to be spending time and headspace searching for important documents saved or stored in different locations.
- See a financial advisor. The best time to build up a qualifie relationship with an advisor and put together a solid financial plan is before any major life changes happen.
This is because major life events like death, retirement, business exit, etc. all have huge implications for your finances and, where possible, need to be planned for.
Putting time into planning your finances while your life is calm can save you a lot of time and stress when you’re going through a crisis. Having an advisor on hand that you know and trust can also be a comfort when you’re going through a vulnerable process like grief.
The loss of a spouse is a difficult process emotionally speaking, but it also brings with it financial ramifications. To minimize stress and difficulty when it comes to your finances during a time like this, there are things you need to be aware of and some you need to plan for.
Our Entrust Wealth Partners team can help you plan your finances for difficult times. Contact your advisor or reach out to us at (860) 838-3730 to look at your wealth management plan.
The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. To determine which strategies or investments may be suitable for you, consult the appropriate qualified professional prior to making a decision.
This material was prepared by Courtney Henry Consulting.