Financial Tips for Widows and Widowers
Losing a spouse is a soul wrenching experience. Compound that loss with figuring out how to handle money after your spouse’s death and it easily becomes overwhelming.
There are a few things that you can do to help you along the path.
Take Your Time Making Major Decisions
Some people, when faced with the death of a spouse, want to get as far away as possible from the home they spent their lives together in. If this is what you need, then see if you can stay with family members or friends for a while.
The throws of grief are no time to make major money decisions that you'll have to live with for the rest of your life. This also goes for a snap retirement or suddenly deciding to travel the world. Wait several weeks or months before attempting any big decisions about your finances.
Keep Up With Your Bills
Although it will be difficult, it's important to keep up with the current bills you have. This includes any ongoing debt repayments, along with utilities and mortgages. Remember to take care of your bills, but also those of your late spouse. If you can’t keep up with the payments, ask for help. A great resource to help you know exactly what to do is: http://www.wife.org/
By keeping up with current bills, you don't risk damaging your credit score. This is important as you begin planning for your future. A good credit score will allow you to have more options and obtain lower interest rates if needed in the future.
Many organizations offer free or low cost help with financial planning for widows and widowers. Contact your local Council on Aging for resources. Another good option is a fee-only planner. These types of financial planners will look at your total financial picture and help you develop a plan. Since they don’t earn a commission, the advice they give you won’t be tainted by the prospect of making money.
The National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (NAPFA) is a great place to start your search for a fee-only financial advisor in your area. After you've given yourself some time to mourn, set up an appointment and get a realistic view of where you're at with your money.
If you find that you're living below your expenses, you may not need (or choose) to make any big changes. But if you're current expenditure and cost of living exceeds your budget, you'll need to make some lifestyle adjustments to scale back. This can mean major decisions such as selling your house, or simply reducing costs, but it's important to talk this over with a trusted financial advisor.
While most people are decent and caring, there are a few scam artists out there that will try to take advantage of a grieving individual. The bottom line here is to never give your personal identity or financial information to anyone that you did not contact first. It could lead to identity theft and massive financial issues. These are headaches that can take years to resolve.
Keep Control Over Your Finances
Children are great emotional support, but they have no business handling your money. Children can act as an important soundboard for important decisions, or just to hear a second opinion, but you'll want to keep your own finances in order. As tempting as it might be to pass the financial headaches along to a loved one, only by getting involved and making informed decisions can you fully enjoy your independence. Remember, your children won't always make the same decisions you would, and there's no faster way to sour a relationship than to put money in the middle of it.
Although, it's important to acknowledge that none of us will be around forever. It's essential to consider some estate planning so that any important paperwork or financial assets are order, anticipating the future, for your children's or loved ones' sake.
Becoming a widow or widower is a difficult time in life, but you're stronger than you think you are! There IS a light at teh end of the tunnel and you'll make it through this very difficult time with support from family, friends or local organizations. But make sure your pain doesn’t affect your decision-making. Take it one day at a time and don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Author: Sheila Martin
Publish Date: Thu, 10/27/2011 - 15:44