No one likes to think of the death of a loved one. But considering the difference in life expectancies of men and women, widowhood is a possibility that you need to take seriously. If you were widowed tomorrow, would you be prepared?
There is really no way to prepare emotionally for the loss of a life partner. However, you can prepare financially. Spending a little time and effort in advance making sure you can answer the following questions will ease the burden on you. Widowhood is already an excruciatingly difficult time, you don’t need financial pressure weighing on you as well.
Does Your Husband Have A Will?
If your husband doesn’t have a will, he needs to go get one today. Without a will, it takes a lot longer to get closure, and things can get messy. If he does have a will, you need to know where it is and have access to it. His will won’t serve any purpose if no one can find it. Also, it would be a good idea for him to review his will to ensure it reflects his current wishes. How would it feel to discover after his death that someone else is listed as his heir?
Do You Know Where Your Important Documents Are?
In the aftermath of your husband’s passing, his will is not the only document you will need. You will need things like your marriage certificate, his birth certificate, and his Social Security card to do things like request benefits or change the name on your car titles. You need to make sure you know where all of these documents are, in addition to automobile titles and property deeds.
Do You Know What Benefits You Are Entitled To?
When your husband dies, you will be entitled to Social Security benefits and perhaps other things like pension benefits, life insurance, and annuities. If he’s still working, there’s a good chance you would be entitled to benefits through his employer that you are unaware of. Have your husband make a list of all of the benefits that you will receive at this death, and make sure you have all of the necessary information to claim those benefits.
Do You Have Access To All Financial Account Information?
You probably have a checking account, savings account, retirement and other investment accounts. When your husband dies, it will be your job to manage those. You need a list of all of the accounts 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. You need all of their information as well, including how and when payments are made. You don’t want to end up defaulting on your mortgage while you’re trying to cope with your husband’s death.
Do You Have A Budget?
An important part of developing a plan for you 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 really help in planning for the future to know what you need on a day-to-day basis.
Do You Have A Trusted Advisor?
Having a strong support system will carry you through the death of your husband 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. Once he is gone, his wife inherits an advisor that she neither knows or trusts.
It is vital that you have someone you trust that you can turn to for help in financial matters. Widowhood is a very 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 and feel that you can trust them. Your peace of mind is of utmost importance. If necessary, find another advisor.
How We Can Help
It is worth your time to prepare for possible widowhood before it happens. Download our free Widowhood Preparation Checklist here and get started today.
At DeLong & Brower, our Retire360 program takes financial organization to a whole new level because we combine a tax practice, insurance agency and financial advising all under one roof. As you prepare for widowhood, we are here to answer any question you may have. Call 616-396-0500 or email firstname.lastname@example.org and we will help you. Every day we help widows, so we understand the delicate balance of handling finances during an emotionally fragile time. We go the extra mile to ensure that finances are a blessing, not a burden, for every widow we encounter.
Joel Johnson, AIF® is an Investment Advisor Representative with DeLong & Brower, P. C., a Holland, Michigan accounting, retirement consulting, insurance, and financial services firm. He specializes in providing comprehensive wealth management and retirement plan consulting for individuals, families, retirees, and business owners. Along with more than 15 years of industry experience, Joel is an Accredited Investment Fiduciary® and a Chartered Federal Employee Benefit Consultant. To learn more, visit www.cpaholland.com.