Whether you yourself are currently experiencing widowhood, or you know someone who is - I want to take a moment to acknowledge your strength. When you lose a lifelong partner, there are moments where it might feel numb, as though moving forward and creating a next-steps plan is outside of your capacity. That’s completely understandable.
Sometimes taking baby steps to protect yourself financially is the best approach. Biting off too much at once could become overwhelming, while not acting at all could be equally detrimental in the long-run. You can stay focused on three simple financial action-items to get started.
It might be tempting to completely change your routine, goals, or living space right now. It’s important to take a step back and give yourself a bit of time before making any major life changes. Often, when we’re in the midst of grieving, change sounds like the perfect way to escape, improve, or push forward past the emotional pain.
However, as is the case with most aspects of your financial plan, impulse decisions don’t usually work in your favor. Taking a moment to think about any changes you’re thinking of making - like moving to a new part of the country, making a major purchase or paying off your mortgage - and discussing them with a trusted financial planner is your best course of action.
Retitling bank and investment accounts, reaching out to creditors, moving utility accounts to your name, and canceling any payments (like a gym membership) in your spouse’s name are a handful of financial obligations you’re likely facing right now. You’ll likely also need to reach out to the credit bureaus to put a death notice on your spouse’s credit.
In most cases, financial institutions and other organizations will be more than willing to work with you to make this process easy. That being said, if this process is sapping your limited energy, enlist help. Having your kids, a close friend, or your advisor help to make the necessary phone calls can be a significant relief.
You’ll need a plan to protect your finances both right now and in the future. Part of your new plan may be a payout from your spouse’s life insurance, or Social Security survivor benefits. If you haven’t spoken with a financial advisor yet, now may be the right time to find someone you trust to help you build your financial future during this new phase of your life. Having an advisor on your side to support you through this major life change can relieve a lot of the financial pressure you may be feeling to handle everything alone. It can also help you to avoid any missteps that could affect your financial security.
At Wood Smith Advisors, we help women in all stages of their lives create unique financial plans that address their individual goals. We pride ourselves in being supportive, and walking with our clients through their journey at a pace that’s comfortable for them - especially during a transition into widowhood. If you need help with your finances right now, or just need someone to talk to, we encourage you to reach out. We’d love to support you in any way we can.
Wood Smith Advisors, a woman-owned Registered Investment Advisor (RIA), is a fee-only financial services firm that partners with its clients to simplify their financial lives. We focus on women, entrepreneurs and individuals with complex financial situations, providing objective and competent advice, education and services to help them develop and build their businesses and reach their financial goals. We can be reached by clicking here.
"Finance Made Simple" blog posts are intended for educational purposes and not for specific advice. Each person’s situation is different. Consult your financial advisor for advice relating to topics discussed.