There are few things in life more devastating than losing your husband. As if dealing with the emotional deluge isn’t enough, you’re now faced with a string of unresolved financial issues that need your immediate attention. You may be numb with pain, but sorting out your finances is something you should give utmost consideration to. In many families, it’s husband who manages the finances. The sudden departure of a spouse can thus leave his bereaved widow unsure of what to do and how to fend for her. Consider these helpful tips, which can bail you out of such a situation and help you achieve monetary independence.
Financial Advice for Widows
• Understand your cash flow. Make a note of how much you are spending and compare it to your income. Find out about insurance policies your husband had invested in. Try to find out what your expenses where for a year before your husband passed away. Jot down the expenditure; include everything from insurance, taxes, mortgage payment, gas and electricity bills, groceries, medical expenditure, etc. It’ll give you an idea what expenses you might incur in the coming year. If you’re retired, you’ll have to think of your living expenses, as well.
• If your health insurance was covered by your husband’s employer, call them up to find out if you’re still eligible for coverage under a different plan. Find out from the employer if you’re entitled to coverage under COBRA (Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act). 1
• Find out from your husband’s employer whether you’re eligible for any benefits. Was your husband enrolled in a pension plan? If he was, find out how you’ll be paid – as a lump sum amount or in monthly installments. Don’t forget to find out whether you’re eligible for any Social Security benefits after your husband’s death.
• Seek help from a trusted and respected financial advisor. He can help you out in a variety of financial matters such as assessing and managing investment portfolios, which can help generate income. You can work together and come up with a plan that will help you live comfortably. The financial advisor can also help you learn how important it is to establish a good credit history in your own name and help you achieve it.
• Even though you’re emotionally drained out, your estate needs should be the top priority.2 Find a trustworthy attorney who can help you with all the paperwork with respect to estate planning. Settling your husband’s estate and then making the necessary changes to your own estate plan is important. If the estate was held jointly by you and your husband, you’ll want to re-title it in your own name.
• If your husband didn’t have a life insurance policy, consider buying one for your dependents. You have an idea how tough and unpredictable life can be, and you certainly wouldn’t want your family members to go through the same challenges if something were to happen to you. Northwestern Mutual offers different types of life insurance policies, which can help you protect your dependents’ future. Similarly, a long-term care insurance policy, like the one offered by AccuQuote, can be a boon for you by providing you cost benefits that can be utilized to cover your medical expenses in old age.
• Obtain your spouse’s death certificate. You’ll need a few copies of it especially if your accounts were held jointly. You’ll have to make all accounts your own by notifying the respective institutions and removing your husband’s name from the accounts.
Keep these things in mind:
• Even though you might take help from a loved one or a trusted acquaintance to manage your finances, make sure you’re informed about every decision they might take on your behalf. It’s your money, so you get to decide how involved others can be in your financial decisions.
• There will be many people out there ready to hoodwink you. Remember that you’re at a very vulnerable stage in your life and unscrupulous tricksters might not give a second thought to take advantage of such situations. If someone makes a proposition that seems too good to be true, don’t hesitate to refuse or seek the opinion from a trusted source. It’s easy to become a victim of identity theft if you divulge confidential information and personal details to illegal sources posing as professionals.
You need to take a step back and mull things over because it’s not easy taking decisions in a heightened state of emotions. It’s easy to drift away and take a risky or irrational financial decision when you can’t think straight. Take all the help that comes your way from close friends and relatives. In fact, it’s a good idea to let someone accompany you whenever you visit an attorney or a financial consultant. Don’t rush into anything, and remember as terrible a time as this is, you’ll only emerge from it stronger and capable of managing life in a much better way.
Author bio: Frank Mitchell has worked as a life insurance agent for 10 years.