While some women do handle their family's financial concerns, there are still many women who rely on their husbands to make the monetary decisions. Statistically speaking, most women will outlive their husbands and be forced to face the rigours of financial responsibility. There are several tips that a widow should think about when venturing out into the financial realm.
One important tip for widows is to make sure you take the time to grieve. Be careful not to make vital financial decisions while you are still vulnerable. Take the time to mourn, and then when the time is right, evaluate the situation and determine exactly what financial decisions are necessary.
Professional Financial Advice
Often widows turn to children or relatives to ease the burden of financial responsibility. Family is a good place to turn, especially if there is an established, loving relationship. However, you should not solely rely on family. Turning to a professional financial adviser is always a good idea. He will be able to devote his expertise to see exactly what is needed to ease your financial burdens. Make sure to always check an adviser's background, looking for any complaints or disputes that led to arbitration awards. Getting references from his other clients is also a good idea. And always, always, ask for credentials. To verify those credentials, ask what agencies oversee him as well as what designations he has.
Dealing with Stressful Issues
Many stresses can result from the death of a husband other than just financial pressures. A widow with young children, for instance, may worry about mortality and issues of guardianship. Make a list of issues that need to be taken care of and tackle them one by one with the help of your adviser. Such issues may include getting survivor benefits from insurance policies or social security, discovering taxes owed, and changing ownership or titles on property, insurance policies, wills and bank accounts. Start a file for important documents such as the death certificate, insurance policies, social security numbers, wills, lists of assets and recent tax returns to make the tasks easier.
Turn to a trusted lawyer or accountant for help with your husband's will and probate, and also get in touch with the benefits administrator at your late husband's place of employment for information about health insurance and other possible benefit packages.
Emotional Support for Financial Issues
All too often widows do not know where to turn for emotional support. Visit aarp.org/family/lifeafterloss/ for valuable information and a way to network with other widows and widowers for emotional support, as well as firsthand experiences and advice about navigating the financial landscape.