Ladies, you probably need no reminders that due to longer life spans, women are more likely than men to lose a spouse. Experiencing loss is heartbreaking and traumatic. On top of grieving, it can be overwhelming to deal with such new “life logistics” as investments and other money matters. Because many husbands handle finances, women can feel intimidated when suddenly taking on this new role. Fortunately, there are concrete steps to take and sources of support available. For example, over at AgingParents.com, expert Carolyn Rosenblatt describes a 60-year-old widow who’s faced with new financial responsibilities upon the death of her husband. The client is given a protocol which includes notifying relevant organizations (like the Social Security Administration and local banks) and finding trusted legal professionals like a tax preparer and financial adviser. You can read more about the suggested advice here.
While the newly widowed may come face-to-face with sophisticated investment concerns and the like, sometimes the challenges can be more basic. For example, over at Next Avenue, writer Ellen Uzelac describes the obstacles she faced after her husband died, like not having access to his online passwords because she couldn’t read his handwriting. The takeaway? There are ways to plan ahead and mitigate these challenges. To make the process more efficient, Uzelac recommends setting aside time in advance of emergencies to discuss finances with your spouse and create a repository for passwords and other necessary information, as an example.
In a recent New York Times article several widows describe their experiences dealing with finances. Many discuss the overwhelming circumstances at first, not knowing what to do or where to start. A certified financial planner suggests creating a to-do-list of top priorities and holding off on major financial decisions for six months to a year. It’s also important to determine how to maximize Social Security payouts, including assessing such various factors as survivor benefits and retirement benefits. For a bit of advice on that, read here.
Every situation is different and it can certainly be stressful to tackle new financial obligations in the face of grief. Fortunately, there’s a breadth of useful resources and adept professionals to advise you. For starters, take a look at the website of Dr. Kathleen Rehl, who has a depth of knowledge and experience addressing widowhood and financial matters. She’s also got a great list of additional articles and resources. For further reading, you may also want to check out some available books – including “Driving Solo” and “On Your Own” which also offer useful guidance.