Your Home: Part 9 of Financial Considerations When You Lose Your Spouse

For 32 years, he filled in the tire tracks you made when you drifted off the concrete backing down your hilly driveway. Now he’s gone, and the divets gape, black and muddy. It is time to move out?

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, Tip 9: Your Home.

Avoid Big Changes

When I get upset, my normally clear patterns of thinking blur – kind of like my eyes do when there are tears in them. When that happens, it is hard to see clearly and to think straight, so decisions made during that time may not be the right ones.

When you lose your spouse, everything gets turned upside down. Instead of a normal, comforting routine doing the same things with the same people, you tend to have an influx of friends and relatives around. You aren’t sleeping at the same times, eating the same foods, or doing the same stuff. An adult child, sister, or best friend may be a rock of support, and the sense that you should think about living near or with the person may become very strong.

It could well be that the best thing for you to do is to sell your home, end your lease, and move toward that person of support or that location you’ve always dreamed of living in. However, if that really is the right thing to do, it’s still going to be as right of a thing a year from now as it is today.

Hold off on big decisions soon after you’ve lost your spouse.

If You Rent

If you are renting a place and you lose your spouse, you may be able to terminate the lease without penalty, especially if you are over a certain age. Laws vary among states, and even if your state has no such law, you may have a special clause in the lease. Barring that, your landlord may be willing to work with you if the loss of your spouse will make it difficult for you to afford your rent. As discussed above, making a permanent change quickly may not be the right thing to do, so if you can afford the rent, it may make you happier in the long run if you stay put short term.