By Piercen Harnish
The death of a loved one is something no one wants to think about. In fact, we’d rather discuss just about anything else! But after the sobering events of this past year and a half, we’ve been reminded that life is precious and no one is immune to tragedy. And being caught unprepared only heightens the grief and increases the stress. Keeping in mind the difference in life expectancies between the genders, widowhood is a possibility you need to take seriously.
While it’s impossible to truly prepare emotionally for the loss of a life partner, it is possible to prepare financially. Spending some time and effort in advance to take the following steps will help you prepare and ease the burden if you find yourself in the excruciatingly difficult time of widowhood.
Consider a Trust
A trust can help ensure that your spouse’s assets are protected and are given to the right heirs in a seamless way. Unlike a will, trusts allow the owner to determine how their estate is disbursed rather than just listing their wishes. In addition, trusts do not need to go through the long and complicated process of probate that wills do, and they cannot be challenged. Without a trust, it takes a lot longer to get closure and all the details can get messy in the process. If your spouse does have a trust, make sure it is up to date and they have worked with a professional to get all the legalities in place.
Organize All Important Documents
In the aftermath of your spouse’s passing, their Will is not the only document you will need. Your marriage certificate, their birth certificate, and their Social Security card will be required to do things like request benefits or change the name on your car titles. Make sure you know where all of this paperwork is located, in addition to automobile titles and property deeds.
Be Aware of Benefits Available to You
When your spouse dies, you will be entitled to Social Security benefits and possibly other assets like pension benefits, life insurance, and annuities. If they are still working, there’s a good chance you will be eligible for benefits through their employer which you are unaware of. Have your loved one make a list of all the benefits you will receive at their death, and ensure you have the necessary information to claim them.
Ensure Access to All Financial Account Information
You probably have a checking account, savings account, retirement, and other investment accounts. When your spouse dies, the management of them will fall to you. Therefore, you need a list of every account you have, whether joint or in only one of your names, the type of account, the institution that holds it, and the account number.
In addition to your assets, you have liabilities, such as debts, insurance, and monthly utilities. Since you don’t want to default on your mortgage while you’re trying to cope with your loved one’s death, record the relevant information for these accounts as well, including how and when payments are made.
Create a Budget
An important part of developing a plan to move forward alone will involve knowing your current spending needs. If you don’t already have a written budget, begin tracking your expenses and create one. It will be an incredible aid when planning for the future.
Partner With a Trusted Advisor
Having a strong support system will carry you through the death of your spouse and give you the strength to move on. Part of that system should be a trusted financial professional. In many marriages, the husband handles the finances and it is he who has a relationship with the family’s financial advisor. If it is he who passes first, his wife inherits an advisor she neither knows nor trusts.
It is vital you have someone you trust that you can turn to for help in financial matters. Widowhood is an extremely vulnerable time, and many unscrupulous people prey on widows. Take some time now to get to know your financial advisor and make sure you like working with them. Your peace of mind is of the utmost importance so, if necessary, find another advisor.
You’re Not Alone
You won’t regret preparing for possible widowhood before it happens. We at Shelton Financial Group understand this can be an emotional process. We would be honored to walk alongside you as we arm you with a solid financial foundation and empower and educate you to make decisions that are right for your life—no matter what the future holds. Reach out to us at 260-436-7006 or schedule your free 30-minute Fit Call online, and let’s start preparing today.
About Shelton Financial Group
Shelton Financial Group is an independent, multi-generational firm in North East Indiana that takes a team approach to addressing their clients' most pressing financial concerns. SFG was founded in 1996 with the mission of helping people enjoy their wealth. Using their proprietary “One Life Formula,” the team at SFG focuses on what matters most to their clients and what they can control, integrating their wealth management needs with other aspects of their financial picture. To learn more about Shelton Financial Group and how they can help you achieve financial independence, visit them online.
The information expressed herein is obtained from sources that are believed to be credible, however, their accuracy cannot be guaranteed. All data is created from publicly available information and has not been independently verified by USA Financial.