Retirement Life is a time when one can experience tremendous meaning and joy, new friendships, expanded knowledge and time enough to appreciate the small things in life, like a beautiful sunset, a brisk walk on the beach, a good romance novel. Unfortunately, it’s also a time where death is a real and common occurrence, and one in which we are rarely ever completely prepared to handle.
The grief we experience when a spouse passes away, whether it was unexpected or the result of a lengthy illness, is almost always overwhelming. One is never ready for the absence of someone we care deeply about.
In addition to the emotional heartbreak and physical separation, there is oftentimes a great deal of confusion about the deceased’s financial affairs and how the survivors will manage important decisions. Serious decisions will have to be made, some of which may have a lasting impact on your, and your families future health. Nevertheless, there are steps you can take to navigate through sometimes difficult legal and financial decisions during a difficult period which often includes personal trauma.
Your closest family, friends and trusted professional can often assist you with the details. Don’t try to handle everything yourself, especially if you don’t have to.
Though the natural inclination may be to “shut down” while you grieve, there are a number of serious decisions that must be made soon after the loss of a loved one.
Several of the critical matters that may need to be addressed when a spouse dies include:
- Notification of extended family and friends.
- Tending to funeral and final arrangements.
- Addressing family issues, especially for “blended” families.
- Contacting an estate planning attorney to review the will and/or trust and handle the legal and tax aspects of your spouse’s estate.
- Contacting your financial planner and CPA to review your assets and determine a financial plan to meet your current and future needs.
- Notification of the Social Security Administration, former employers, banks, insurance companies, government offices, and financial providers.
- Making an assessment of your financial picture.
In the weeks following a spouse’s death, you’ll be flooded with paperwork and likely feel pressured into making financial decisions quickly. It’s important to take things one step at a time, at a pace that feels comfortable for you. Remember the decisions you make now may have significant impact on your future.
As you begin to experience your independence status, the financial challenges you’re faced with may seem overwhelming at times. With advice from a trusted advisors and professionals, careful evaluation of your choices, and a well-designed plan, you can begin to move forward with your financial life.