One of the hardest life transitions women face is the loss of a spouse. Whether it is from death or divorce, picking up the pieces and moving forward is challenging – emotionally and financially. One of the hardest life transitions women face is the loss of a spouse. Whether it is from death or divorce, picking up the pieces and moving forward is challenging – emotionally and financially.
Where there were shared responsibilities, suddenly you are in charge of everything from getting the car fixed to managing the daily budget and long-term financial plan. It can feel quite overwhelming. Not to mention, this transition comes at an incredibly emotional time.
Adjusting to your new conditions will not happen overnight and may actually take several years. This is a time of profound self-discovery for women, who may find themselves examining issues of identity, life meaning, and aging. Creating a support group – family, friends, and professionals – gives you a pool of people you can use as a sounding board that will keep your “best interest” in mind when providing advice.
While there will be many things to tackle over the next year, here are some important things to do in the short-term:
Locate and organize your important documents and financial records. It is easy to overlook something when you are dealing with emotional stress. Having a system for gathering and organizing financial records can provide some sense of control.
Important financial documents and records are generally the first items to focus on. The bills still need to be paid and the cash flow needs to be managed.
- Checking and savings accounts statements
- Investment account statements
- Retirement plan statements
- Stock and bond certificates
Legal documents may need to be updated, reviewed, or available for reference. These include:
- Medical directive
Other important papers should also be organized so that you can determine if adjustments need to be made, such as updating ownership records or beneficiaries. Some may be required for documentation as you make changes.
- Social Security statements
- Insurance policies
- Marriage, birth, and death certificates
- Property deeds
- Ownership titles – vehicles and recreational equipment
Keep in mind that everything does not have to be done immediately. Gathering this information will allow you to set up a system for tracking important details. Keep a notebook or use a computer spreadsheet that you can easily access for account numbers, phone numbers and addresses, who to call for information on accounts, professional contacts, and deadlines to monitor.
After the initial legal and financial matters settle, you will begin adjusting to your new financial circumstances. As you move forward, remember that it may be two steps forward and one step back. Take comfort in knowing you are making the best decisions you can, financially and otherwise, for you and your family.
Remember, you are not alone. Even though you believe you can do it all, reach out to us as your trusted advisors. We can help you navigate this new landscape, avoid some of the pitfalls, give you advice, and be a sounding board as you make important decisions.