When You Lose Your Spouse: Part 1 of Financial Considerations for Widows

Updated: May 10

When you start making the calls, you’ll hear the same refrain: “Sorry for your loss.” It will be spoken by an Ashley or a Hunter or some other chipper millennial. Some of these young people will endeavor to pack a bit of emotion behind the phrase, but for most of them, you’re the tenth similar call of the day. And it wasn’t their dad. They’re doing their best to grind through the building years of their own lives. The years you had with him.


You roll out the preliminaries: his name, birthdate, Social Security number. “How do you spell that?” “Did you say five or nine?”


In these details, the memories flow back. Your excitement in taking his last name 46 years ago and pulling your new Social Security card out of the envelope. The fact that no one ever spells that last name right the first time. The delight when a grandchild was born on his birthday. The 60th birthday party everyone came to where the bouncy house you got for the little kids started to float away.


Ashley or Hunter have no knowledge of the depth of the memories: good and not so great; joyful and sad; momentous and minimal. The sum total of decades together.


And you two did pretty well over those decades. You had a good job once the kids got older, and he had an even better one, leaving you with enough money and continuing cash flow to be safe.


But how can you stay safe now that he’s gone and you have to make the decisions on your own?


Over the next few articles, we’ll explore some of the ways you can preserve and try to increase the money you and he earned and grew together. FINRA, a reliable financial source, offers these ten tips:


· Only Take Care of the Most Pressing Financial Issues First

· Take Your Time with Big Decisions

· Don't Be Hasty with Career Changes

· If You Haven't Yet Filed for Social Security, Consider Your Options

· Collect Other Benefits

· Take Stock of Your Late Spouse's Retirement Accounts - Inherited Accounts

· Take Stock of Your Late Spouse's Retirement Accounts - Rollovers and Definitions

· Wait to Change Your Joint Checking Account Information

· Consider Whether to Adjust Your Investments

· Be Careful About Home Decisions

· Beware of Fraud

· Consult the Experts

· Taxes Right Away

· Taxes Later On

· Settling Up - A Conclusion and a New Beginning


We’ll cover each of these in the next few articles. Thank you for joining me.


Kathryn Hauer, a Certified Financial Planner ™, adjunct professor, and financial literacy educator has written numerous articles and several books including the "11-Step, DIY, Comprehensive Financial Plan Workbook" and "Financial Advice for Blue Collar America." She works to help clients and readers understand and act on complex financial information to keep them and their money safe. She functions as a strong advocate and guiding light for her clients as they move through murky and unfamiliar financial and career worlds.

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