No one likes to think of the future death of a loved one, but considering the events of this past year, we’ve all learned we can’t take life for granted. Being caught unprepared only exacerbates the grief. And considering the difference in life expectancies of men and women, widowhood is a possibility you need to take seriously.
While there is really no way to prepare emotionally for the loss of a life partner, you can prepare financially. Spending a little time and effort in advance to ensure you can answer the following questions will ease the burden if you find yourself in the excruciatingly difficult time of widowhood. So ask yourself, “If I were widowed tomorrow, would I be prepared?”
Do You Have a Trust in Place?
If your spouse doesn’t have a trust, they need to draw one up immediately. A trust ensures 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.
Are All Important Documents Organized?
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.
What Benefits Are 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.
Do You Have 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.
Have You Created 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.
Do You Have 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 theutmost importance so, if necessary, find another advisor.
You’re Not Alone
One thing you will not regret is preparing for possible widowhood before it happens. At 1on1 Financial, we aim to arm you with a solid financial foundation and empower and educate you to make decisions that are right for your life. As you prepare for widowhood, we are here to answer any questions you may have. Call our office today at 909-981-1720 or simply click here to schedule a free 15-minute introductory phone call and start preparing today.
About 1on1 Financial
1on1 Financial is an independent financial advisory firm specializing in guiding working and retired professionals, executives, and business owners along the path to financial well-being. Founded in 1997, we use a team approach to help our clients accumulate wealth, generate income, preserve their life savings, and strategically plan for the distribution of their estate. With more than 50 years of combined experience in the financial services industry, we remain true to our fundamental mission: to provide personalized guidance, treatment, care, and service so our clients can gain control of their future and feel confident in their financial life.