Posted: September 18, 2018
If you have a parent or other loved one who is an older adult, you have probably already seen them through many late-life changes. One change that is hard for any of us to prepare for is the loss of a spouse. When someone is grieving, making the right financial decisions can feel like a heavy burden on top of the emotional weight of loss. As a loving friend, you can help guide your loved one through this difficult time so they feel confident and comforted through many of the steps that follow.
Do These Things First
The first hurdle you face is helping your loved one carry out the immediate necessities, including managing the deceased person’s estate.
How You Can Help
Once the ball is rolling on these necessary steps, you can help your loved one get paperwork organized. Your loved one and their deceased spouse will have multiple accounts for everything from banking to auto loans, credit cards, insurance, and investments. According to USA Today, you should be prepared to go through at least three months’ worth of bills to find all the information you need. It’s also important to be aware that credit card accounts that were in their spouse’s name may not remain active, even if the surviving spouse is an authorized user.
With this paperwork in hand, help your loved one research and understand all survivor benefits. Consult their most recent statements for Social Security, any pensions and other survivor policies. These statements will help you determine where they stand, but don’t try to do this alone. Trusted professionals, such as an attorney, Certified Public Accountant, and financial advisor are all valuable resources to help you make sense of the ins and outs of these policies.
Start Planning Ahead
Throughout this process, you also want to help your loved one consider the implications for their financial future and how any decisions they make now will impact that. For example, if the couple was still living at home, the death of their spouse may mean your loved one is now facing the loss of their independence. According to Money Crashers, some people who lose their spouse are at greater risk for depression if they have assets, such as a home, because they now have to handle daily upkeep on their own or make the decision to move.
Coping with this new reality is challenging emotionally, and at the same time, a change in lifestyle involves making some pretty big financial decisions. Whether they decide to move to a retirement community immediately or a move is in their near future, you can help your loved one plan for this financially.
One way to help make sure they are prepared for expenses they may face in the future is to review health and life insurance policies. If they have a life insurance policy, it may be worth selling if their spouse was the beneficiary, especially if the policy is approaching its expiration date. Selling a life insurance policy (also called a life settlement) can be a good solution to help with expenses and medical costs down the road.
Grieving and learning to live without a spouse is hard enough. Dealing with the financial implications that come along with that is yet another struggle. The comfort and security you can help provide through this process is an incredible way to support your grieving loved one.