The loss of a loved one, especially a life partner or spouse is extremely difficult from an emotional, physical, and financial perspective. In fact, research shows that it is the most stressful life event. During this time, it's critical to make self-care a priority and give yourself the time you need to grieve, which can be a lengthy process.
From a financial perspective, however, there are some arrangements that cannot be put off for too long. There are also other financial decisions that require a clear head, and as such it may be wise to hold off on. Either way, getting a hold on your finances can help you feel in control, can improve your sense of well-being, and can help you reduce your anxiety about the future. Here's our financial advice for those who are newly widowed.
This is especially important to do immediately if your partner took care of most of the finances. Hopefully your finances are already organized and easy to navigate, but if not then it's worth taking the time to take stock and check that you have all the important information you need, which often includes:
· Bank statements and correspondence
· Credit card statements
· Business or employer-related documents
· Estate documents
· Household documents
· Income-tax information and documents
· Insurance policies
· Details about other assets
· Personal documents
Write important due dates in your calendar and record your dealings with financial and other institutions by noting the day and time you spoke, their name and any critical information about the correspondence.
Meet with Your Attorney, Accountant and Financial Advisor Soon
You'll likely have some decisions to make about your estate. During this process also loop in your accountant and financial advisor. You'll want to know which documents will be important for the next tax year. It's a good idea to also ask about any insurance or other death benefits you have available to you and to understand what information you need to collect those benefits. You'll also want to talk to your financial advisor about adjusting your insurance coverage and possibly your investments.
Understand Your Finances
What is your adjusted net worth now? This is a good conversation to have with your financial advisor. It's important to understand how much income you have and what your expenses are. From rent/mortgage to household expenses to insurance payments, it's important to ensure that you have what you need to support your current lifestyle, and if not, to make lifestyle changes that will provide a financially stable future.
Postpone the Big Decisions When Possible
The death of a loved one often triggers big decisions like selling your home. Most experts recommend that you wait until at least the first year before making decisions that are irreversible. Keep this in mind when family and friends offer well-meaning advice. As Sixty and Me points out, it's worth asking yourself “Must this decision be made right now, or can it wait until a better time for me to take action?”
If you feel pressured to make a big move within the first year (like selling your home) because of your financial situation then it's worth investigating other options first. Homesharing is a great solution that can keep you in your home while providing you with supplemental income. Plus, having a housemate offers added benefits like social interaction and help around the house. This is a great way to bridge your financial gap while you take the time to decide whether you really want to move. If you do end up deciding to move, then you'll have the time needed to find a home that's just right for you. Give the team at HomeShare Alliance a call to learn more about home sharing. We're happy to walk you through the process.