Settling Up: Your Financial Future: Part 13 of Financial Considerations When You Lose Your Spouse

Updated: Aug 10


It’s Valentine’s Day, 2020, and if you’re facing it without your long-time Valentine for the first time, it’s going to be a tough day. It’s not like you celebrated it that heavily after decades of marriage: roses seemed a silly waste of money and who can plow their way through a box of chocolates at middle age? But that sustaining, buoying, constant well of love was always valentining it up in the background. At some point, the roses and chocolate caramels just gilded the lily.


In our series on how to manage finances after the death of a spouse, we’re exploring tips from FINRA, a reliable financial source. Today, in our last article, Tip 13: Settling Up Your Financial Future.


In the months after death, there is so much to do. The list of relatively immediate action items is long, tedious, and depressing. The eventual, continuing, additional list, especially the stuff that pertains to financial organization, is longer, more tedious, and wildly depressing, in part because it underscores the finality of what has happened and in part because it is so inefficient and maddening.


I’ve worked with many widows during this phase. In order to settle the post-death money aspect of 401(k)s, IRAs, employment benefits, Social Security, banks, brokerages, DMVs, etc., etc., you have to spend hours on the phone talking and waiting and talking and waiting and arguing and repeating. It can be overwhelming to have to contact multiple banks, insurance companies, and brokerages to figure out where your money is and to change ownership. Just finding the phone number is a trial, and then when you finally locate it, the confusing option choices and robot voices keep you from talking to a real person. And once you get there, half the time the person transfers you to another robot before you can even state the problem.