The death of a spouse leaves a hollow spot in a home, a partnership, and the world of another person. It is a situation that none envy, but many women will endure. The plan you put in place to manage all of the dealings that must take place in this situation will not fill the hollow void, nor will it ease your grief. It will, however, give you the ability to address those dealings in the most efficient manner possible, leaving time to process, grieve, and spend time with those closest to you.
When you’ve lost a spouse, your first task is to take care of funeral arrangements. The more you’ve planned ahead for this life-altering event, the better off you’ll be when the moment arrives. You will need help, though, no matter how prepared you are. In these times, lean on friends and fa
mily. If a trusted member of your circle offers help, don’t immediately dismiss them. Take time to think over what tasks you may be able to delegate.
There are two immediate financial concerns when faced with the death of a spouse: Expenses and Income.
Many of the immediate expenses associated with the death of a spouse should be covered by a life insurance policy or supplemental death benefit. If you’re still planning for the journey ahead and you don’t have these in place, talk to your insurance provider now and find out what is right for you.
Other expenses you may encounter include travel and auxiliary costs associated with funeral services.
The immediate impact of your spouse’s death may produce a sizable, lump sum payment from a life insurance policy. It is best to speak with an advisor who understands your financial situation to ensure that this payment is put to its best use.
Indeed, there are tough times ahead. The sadness and longing will not necessarily ever completely leave, but the weight of it will lessen with time. Your life will continue, and it is not callous to do so.
However, your life will be significantly altered, especially when it comes to your finances. If handled properly, you shouldn’t have to endure a drastic drop-off in your quality of living. To ensure that, though, you will still need to manage your expenses and income.
Most women who lose their spouse will be living in single income households. This, obviously, reduces the expenses that are associated with cohabitation. It may take some time to fully adjust to planning for one instead of two.
And though only one person resides there, the home will cost the same. It will still require the same maintenance and utilities. This is a major reason many widows choose to downsize their residence. A single person needs less space and may be better served, both from a responsibility and financial standpoint, living in a home that fits their specific needs.
It is also important to understand what income is removed by the death of your spouse. Pensions and Social Security payments will stop, but 401k and retirement accounts have special considerations, especially about the taxes associated with them. Your investment professional will know how to address these situations as they relate to your financial plan.
Depending on the life insurance policy that covered your spouse, there may be an opportunity to replace the income that they generated. There are several options, including annuities and low-risk, income-generating investments. Each has its own advantages and drawbacks. We advise seeking out an investment advisor to help you decide which is best for your situation.
Nothing can exactly prepare you for the death of your greatest partner. Feelings of helplessness, sadness, anger, loneliness, and guilt are all normal. The time necessary to process all these feelings can’t be accurately estimated as it varies for all.
You must remember that it isn’t something you must endure alone. There are many who would gladly lend a helping hand to see you through the darkest of times. Your friends and family are but one source of support. Widows groups and other support systems are there to assist as well.
When it comes to your financial concerns, your advisor should be ready and willing to assist with whatever is necessary to ensure your future is secure.
In our final chapter, we’ll recap and provide some parting advice.