Protect Yourself Financially After the Loss of a Spouse
Losing a spouse comes with deep emotional grief and an overwhelming amount of complex financial and legal decisions. Many widows are in a state of shock where memory is uncertain, attention span is short, and decision-making seems nearly impossible.
Here are three tips on how to protect yourself financially after loss:
1. Don’t rush into major financial decisions
When you are in the midst of grief, your brain functions differently. Of course, some financial tasks need to be addressed right away, such as making funeral preparations and paying bills. However, wait until you have a clear head before diving into bigger financial decisions, such as what to do with life insurance proceeds, selling the home, or quitting your job. For example, don’t immediately spend or invest life insurance proceeds. Instead, deposit them into a safe money market account until you fully understand your options and long-term plan. It is important to avoid financial decisions you are tied to long-term or can’t get out of without a penalty.
2. Watch for financial wolves
As a new widow, be wary of anyone who wants to sell you something. Salespeople can see new widows as easy targets to sell a financial product that you may not need. On the other hand, if somebody calls claiming you or your spouse owes them money, make sure you look into the debt’s validity. This includes the amount of the debt, name of the current creditor, and information on the original creditor.
3. Don’t be a banker
In times of loss, family members may come out of the woodwork to ask for a loan or get a cut of their inheritance early, whether warranted or not. Don’t feel obligated to give in to the pressures of emotional guilt. It is important to put your financial needs first and ensure your long-term plan is financially secure. If you decide to date or remarry later in life, be mindful of how much you share about your financial picture until you know their true intentions.
Surviving spouses don’t have to face their financial future alone. It’s important to work with your trusted financial advisors to help you navigate what decisions to tackle first and what can wait until you’re in a better place mentally. Your BDF team can provide guidance and support during this difficult time. BDF can also enlist our Widows Practice Group to help you make thoughtful decisions about your finances and more.
Kim enjoys educating clients on comprehensive financial planning and strategies so they can live their full life. She is able to get a deep understanding of what is important to a client and address their concerns with care and compassion. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison where she earned a bachelor’s degree in Personal Finance. She is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional.