Moving From Grief to Growth
Losing a spouse is one of the most traumatic transitions any of us will ever experience. Your soul mate and life partner is gone. At the beginning, so many friends and family members offered their condolences and support, but now you feel alone and heart broken. Perhaps you are not sleeping or eating well, or you may be feeling numb, confused, anxious, angry, guilty, depressed, or vulnerable.
It is important that you understand that your feelings are perfectly normal. As a widow or widower, you are no longer part of a couple and you don’t even begin to know who you are as a single person. A successful transition begins with an ending and ends with a new beginning, but you can’t even see how you will get through tomorrow. You can’t make decisions, you can’t remember things, you feel incompetent and you are afraid this lack of capacity will last forever.
The journey is not easy. It’s complicated and painful. You have lost your soul mate and your sounding board. This is when you need a compassionate and knowledgeable personal financial planner with specialized training in helping widows and widowers manage their financial transitions.
We can’t make your grief go away. Your loss, your transition from part of a couple to a single person, will be difficult and traumatic. But we can provide that sounding board that you are missing. We can help coach you through the decisions that need to be made, provide the space and time you need to grieve, and the guidance, planning, and investment management you will need to make sure you are safe and that you can move on to the next phase of life.
Answering Tough Questions about Money Management After the Loss of a Spouse
It’s common to have tough questions about managing money and your future after losing your spouse. As a part of our financial transition planning services for loss of a spouse, we will help answer your questions:
- How will I take care of my family without my partner?
- How do I pay my bills?
- Do I need to get a job?
- What do I do with my spouse’s retirement plans?
- Is it smart to combine IRA accounts?
- Am I entitled to part of my spouse’s pension?
- What happens with Social Security?
- Now what do I do for health insurance?
- Are there any life insurance benefits that I don’t know about?
The Transition Process for the Loss of a Spouse
For more than 26 years, our talented team of credentialed financial advisors has provided coaching and guidance to individuals after the loss of a spouse. Many of our staff members have special training in this area, and we’ve developed a proven Transition Process that allows widows and widowers to confidently start a new and enriching life.
Here’s a glance of what that process might look like if you’ve lost a spouse:
Step 1: Evaluate
Assess the Situation
What resources are available? Do you have adequate cash reserves for a few months? How many copies of death certificates do you need? What sources of income will you have? Which sources will you lose or have reduced? What life insurance is there?
Step 2: Organize
Categorize the Situation into Logical Groups
- People: Who needs to be informed? Are you eligible for any Veterans Affairs benefits? Have you notified Social Security and pensions? Do you need to notify the administrator of any pension?
- Estate: Have you notified your estate attorney? Will you need to change beneficiaries or update estate documents? Will there be estate taxes due?
- Investments: What is in the safe deposit box? Do you know where all investment accounts are held?
- Bills: Do you know which bills are coming due? Do you have enough in your checking account to pay them?
- Income: Do you know all your sources of income and how they are paid to you?
Step 3: Prioritize
Define what is Urgent and Important
Which decisions are the most urgent? Which ones need to be made now, and which ones can wait until later? Bills and taxes need to be paid. Other decisions can often be put off for a few months.
Step 4: Stabilize
Deal with the Most Critical Issues
Have we made all of the critical decisions? Do you have enough cash to pay bills for a couple of months? Do you have health insurance and other protective mechanisms?
Step 5: Insulate
Create a Decision-Free Zone
Postpone all non-essential major decisions until you have had time to adjust to your new life.
Step 6: Financial Life Planning and Investment Management
Start Planning & Living Your Goals
At some point, you will be able to look forward and visualize your new life. What are your needs and wishes as an independent “new you”? How much do you need in a savings account, money market or CD’s to feel safe? How much cash flow will you need each month to make sure you can always pay your bills? How much insurance should you own? What types of insurance do you need? Is your estate plan current, accurate and adequate?
What rate of return do you need to achieve your goals? How much risk are you willing to take? How much risk can you tolerate? Will you need cash flow from your portfolio? What is an appropriate investment portfolio for you?