When You Lose a Spouse

Whether it is something you’ve known has been coming or is out of the blue and unexpected, losing a spouse is something very difficult to prepare for and the grief affects each of us differently.

This typically is not a sound time to be making big decisions.

Here is some helpful advice if you have recently lost your loved one and preventative steps if you’re reading this in better times.

If you’ve just lost your spouse…

Put off the things you can – especially finances.

This may seem like odd advice, since our role as a financial advisor is to help people make reliable money decisions and get on with their lives. However, during this time even a small decision can seem overwhelming. When you are experiencing grief and loss it can affect your ability to make rational decisions, especially when it comes to finances. That is why we advise to wait and put off what you can for the time being.

Most financial decisions are not that urgent.

Those around you like friends, family, or service providers may mean well, but their urgency may not match yours. If you fail to follow through or act, cut yourself some slack and assume most financial decisions can wait, unless it really is about to become chaotic and needs your attention.

Focus on what matters.

Take this time to focus on things that really matter. Urgent things such as making funeral arrangements, managing immediate expenses, taking care of yourself and your dependents. Make sure you have enough of a cash flow to handle day to day purchases and bills. This is also a good time to round up critical paperwork like pre-planned funeral arrangements and multiple copies of the death certificate. It’s also important to ensure that you and your children’s health care coverage remains accessible.

Lean on others.

Losing a spouse is not something you have to go through alone. Lean on friends or family for support and focus on relationships that relieve your burdens. For financial or legal paperwork, contact professionals such as your financial advisor, CPA, and insurance agent. Be wary of forming new relationships at this time; unfortunately, con artists prey on those whose guard may be down.

After some time has passed…

Assess your situation.

Once you feel ready, start taking on some of the larger tasks and gathering resources such as wills, trusts, insurance policies, financial statements, personal identification, mortgages, retirement benefits, safety deposit box contents, business paperwork, military service records, club memberships. It is important to take inventory.

Reach out.

Continue to contact those you can help address your evolving needs like your financial advisor, spouse’s employer, lawyer, insurance agent, accountant and creditor to settle and resolve any situations.

Shift your focus.

Each of us has our own timeline when it comes to lifetime transitions. When you’re ready, don’t go through it alone. Reach out to your financial advisor for help looking at your finances with a new perspective. Whether adjustments are needed or not, wait until you’re ready to make these decisions rather than in a haste.

Pre-planning is an act of love…

If you’re reading this in better times, it is critical to pre-plan for when one or both of you pass away. It can simplify or eliminate some of the agonizing decisions you may face during this terrible time and resolve the burden and lessen the stress of things you may need to handle. Advance planning can be a gift and it can be helpful for your loved ones, so give the gift of pre-planning.

Copper Leaf Financial has assisted clients within both scenarios. We help you handle what needs to be addressed now to ensure that your long-term goals are met so that you can focus on what really matters.

When you’re ready to talk, we are ready to help and listen.

To download a checklist and keep yourself organized during this difficult time please click here.

With offices in Rutland and Williston, Vermont Copper Leaf Financial develops a customized wealth management plan designed to integrate every aspect of your financial life. Our approach is to provide clarity and calm amidst the chaos. Where there is uncertainty, we look for facts. We call our approach evidence-based investing. Call us today at 802-878-2731 to schedule a strategy session and begin building your road map to financial success.