After the loss of a spouse or significant other, financial planning is likely the last thing on your mind. But it’s when you’re at your most vulnerable that you should safeguard your position. With all the changes and adjustments you’re going through, you don’t need the added stress of worrying about money.
Some serious pitfalls lie ahead for widows who put these considerations on the back burner. Here are 5 tips to help you avoid these major missteps.
1. DON’T MAKE ANY BIG DECISIONS
With your emotions on overdrive, you could make the mistake of thinking you need to make major decisions to prove that you’re in control. Selling your house, liquidating assets – these are just a couple of decisions that can prove disastrous when made from a position of emotion rather than logic.
A good rule of thumb is to wait six months to one year before making any significant changes. This gives you time to restore some perspective and obtain trustworthy guidance.
2. DON’T BE AFRAID TO SAY “NO”
Books and movies have long used the stock character of the slick, predatory man waiting to prey on the grieving widow. You may be savvy enough to understand you should stay away from relationships based on money.
Sadly, sometimes it’s relatives who approach with outstretched hand, thinking that grief will make you more receptive. Consider any requests carefully, and don’t let guilt be your motivation. Think of yourself and your needs before others.
3. DON’T OVERLOOK BUDGETING
Now that your household consists of one, you might not think a budget is necessary since there’s only one person making decisions. It’s actually more important than ever to get a handle on your expenditures and make sure your cash flow is sufficient.
In addition to day-to-day living expenses, you’ll have other bills during this time, such as hospital charges and attorney fees. Making a list will help keep you from getting blindsided by an unexpected item.
4. DON’T DISMISS OTHER SOURCES OF INCOME
As a widow, you’re provided for as the beneficiary of your husband’s will and any insurance policies. There are often other survivor benefits available based on employment, military service, etc. that may be easy to overlook.
Don’t trap yourself into feeling greedy. You owe it to yourself and your future security to avail yourself of any resources you’re entitled to. Timeliness is often a factor here, so you should find out as soon as possible what you’re eligible for and what steps to take.
5. CAREFULLY WEIGH ADVICE FROM FAMILY AND FRIENDS
Those close to you will no doubt be offering plenty of advice and opinions. While their motives are sincere, no two people experience loss of a spouse in the same way and under the same conditions. You need the benefit of a financial advisor who’s current in financial regulations, tax laws, and other conditions that will affect your decisions.
There’s no one-size-fits-all solution. Referrals are helpful, but take the time to find someone you can trust to guide you through this difficult time.
Financial planning for widows involves more than just money. It means considering where you want your life to go from here and what it will take to get there.
To learn more about Russ Thornton, visit his website www.wealthcareforwomen.com.
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