Managing Money after the Loss of a Spouse
by Katie Bruno, MIMFA
CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ Professional
Losing a spouse can fill someone with anxiety and emotion. You may feel overwhelmed with decisions that need to be made.
In many instances, money can be the last thing on your mind, particularly when you are grieving and trying to pick up the pieces of your life. As the surviving spouse, you may feel the financial decisions left to be made are adding stress to an already emotional, life-changing event.
Will you have enough money? Is your future protected? What benefits do you have? What changes should be made?
You are not alone.
There are 12 million widows living today in the U.S., and that number is growing at a rate of 1 million per year.1 Women are four times more likely than men to be widowed, and will outlive their spouses by an average of 14 years.2 Some of the bigger decisions you will have to make when you find yourself suddenly single include:
- Understanding what reliable income you have; and
- How you will be cared for
No matter your gender, here are a few basic tips that may help you, whether you are a widow or a widower.
Prioritize Your Decision Making Process
Understand that you are the most vulnerable in the period immediately following your loss. You should delay making major financial decisions during this time, when your capacity to think clearly may be compromised. First, focus on the decisions for things that cannot be delayed, such as final arrangements, bereavement leave, and obtaining certified copies of the death certificate. Make sure you have the time and opportunity to fully think through your current circumstances, and discuss your desires for the short and long-term future with your financial planner when you are ready.
Discuss Social Security with Your Financial Advisor
If your spouse and you both collected social security benefits, you will only be eligible for the higher payment, following the death of your spouse. As a widow or widower, you do not have to wait until retirement age to receive survivor benefits. Survivor benefits can begin as early as age 60. However, in some cases you may want to delay collecting survivor benefits and begin collecting your own benefits, or vice versa. Social security benefits grow as one account remains untapped. You should meet with your Morey & Quinn financial advisor to determine the option that is best for you.
Review Account Titling
Remove your spouse’s name from any joint accounts and transfer them to your name. You will want to modify any automatic payments or debits before closing or changing account titling. Notify your utility and service companies, banks, life insurance companies, pension administrators, loan providers, and anyone else your loved one may have had a financial relationship with.
Plan for Yourself
Start to review and update your own estate plan. It is likely that the loved one you have lost was among your original beneficiaries. You will want to begin updating your insurance policies, legal documents and investment plans. Consider how you will be cared for both financially and physically. Meet with your financial advisor to determine if you have enough reliable income, and if new planning solutions or approaches should be taken, such looking into long-term care insurance or reducing the risk in your portfolio.
We understand that every person’s situation will have unique circumstances, and questions may arise.
If you have recently lost a loved one and need financial planning support, Morey & Quinn Wealth Partners are available to help you work through any decisions that need to be addressed today, or in the future.
As life planners, we work with you to provide a thoughtful approach to this transition, along with expertise, personalized resources and long-term planning tools.
Morey & Quinn Wealth Partners
Raymond James® LIFE WELL PLANNED.
11225 Davenport St, Suite 109
Omaha, NE 68154
1 Rehl, Kathleen, A Financial Guidebook for Widows
2 Froma Walsh, Monica McGoldrick, Living Beyond Loss: Death in the Family
The information has been obtained from sources considered to be reliable, but Raymond James does not guarantee that the foregoing material is accurate or complete.
Any opinions are those of Katie Bruno, and not necessarily those of RJFS or Raymond James. The information contained in this report does not purport to be a complete description of the securities, markets, or developments referred to in this material. Investing involves risk and you may incur a profit or loss regardless of strategy selected.
Raymond James does not provide tax or legal services. Please discuss these matters with the appropriate professional.