Spouse Loss

Transitioning After The Loss of a Spouse

Transitioning After The Loss of a Spouse

Nothing upends your world like the death of a spouse, leaving you at a loss for what to do next.

It is beneficial to create a plan ahead of time, although if you have experienced the loss of a loved one without one, our Peak Wealth team can guide you through the process. 

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Making Financial Decisions 

When a spouse dies, you may be faced with a terrible shadow of grief, fear, and uncertainty.

During this time, there are many decisions to make that can permanently affect you: your finances, your family, your livelihood, and so much more.

Review these items with members of your support network in the days, weeks, and months during the first year to follow.

Only time will help to heal the grief you experience. 

Organizing your finances and taking the right steps will help you regain a sense of control, well-being, and reduced financial worry during your time of healing.

6 Important Next Steps to Take

1. Take inventory - Will, Trust, Locate bank statements, investment statements, 401k/employee benefit statements, collect vacation and sick pay, life insurance policies, tax returns, social security statements.

2. Review Cash flow and liquidity - Use expense tracking to help understand new monthly expenses and income needs.(expense tracking form) Understand which accounts money can be taken out of without incurring taxes and penalties.

3. Get a plan - Common advice after the loss of a loved one is to not make any financial decisions for 6-12 months. While that is good advice, you need to be able to assess your current situation to see if that is an option. Having a good financial plan in place that is run with realistic projections can help answer difficult questions like: Do I need to go back to work?, Can I afford to stay in this house?, Do I have enough saved to last my lifetime?, Are my accounts invested properly for my age and situation?

4. Be aware of the role emotions play in financial decisions - Spending can be a way of grieving. While it can be a distraction from the pain, it can do long term damage to your financial situation. Having a budget can help point out when spending starts to go above your means.

5. Update your estate plan - Wills and trusts will need to be updated. Beneficiaries will need to be changed. Assets may need to be retitled. Guardianship for the children may need to be put in place. Life insurance may need to be purchased, increased or even cancelled for the surviving spouse. Long term care could now be an important need.

6. Ask for help - Evaluate advice given by a well-intentioned friend or family member carefully. Advice given out of proper context can have major ramifications. Consider consulting with a professional and bringing your trusted family member to the meeting. Understand the decisions that are being made. If you do not understand the Pros and Cons, ask it to be explained another way or get a second opinion. Do not be pressured into a decision that could have long term consequences. Be aware of annuities or other investments that can reduce liquidity, promise no losses or charge a surrender fee for access within a certain period of time. Make sure the advisor tells you how they are compensated and that it aligns their interest with yours. Plans need to be adjusted over time so make sure your advisor keeps in touch with you and meets yearly.