Losing your spouse of many years is devastating. To complicate this emotional time, you now have to handle a flood of financial issues and decisions. How can you get through this troubling time? With support and a bit of knowledge, you can get through the worst of it. The first step is taking care of yourself.
Self-Care After Loss
Right now, there are a lot of things on your plate. While self-care may be the last thing you want to think of, do what you can -- even if it’s a little. If you can’t sleep, find time to lie down and get off your feet. If you can’t eat much, stay hydrated and keep taking any supplements or medications you are on.
Now is the time to get support from a friend or family member you trust. They can help you sort through your paperwork and keep you on task for the major decisions you must make. Additionally, you might want to consider hiring a financial support team, which can consist of professionals such as lawyers or financial planners. You can learn more in this post from Kiplinger.
Getting Organized and Making Changes
The next step is finding all the important legal, financial, and other paperwork you will need for the decisions ahead. Some key items include:
- Death and marriage certificates
- Insurance policies
- Bank records
- Mortgage contract
One of the early steps you’ll need to take is putting everything in your name and/or removing your spouse’s on items such as deeds and titles. This is called retitling, and you can learn more about this process and other emotionally taxing issues, such as death benefits, at Forbes. LegalZoom also has some helpful information on transferring property from your spouse.
The most important thing at this point is not to make any major financial decisions right away, which is one of the five important tips for recently widowed people in this article written by a widow at CNBC.
Review Your Finances
The next big hurdle is making sure you have enough income for the future. Ameriprise recommends reviewing and calculating your assets, including:
- Your current income
- Insurance policy proceeds
- Investments and retirement savings
- Social security and/or other government benefits
Take stock of your monthly expenses as well. This will help you determine if you can keep your home. It’s also wise to save any financial windfall you receive for any future expenses, according to Market Watch.
Selling Your Home
This is another decision that you should make with great care. The benefits include:
- You may find it too difficult to continue to live in your home due to memories. Selling it can help you move forward in the grief process.
- If you need to free up cash for expenses or medical costs, this step can help you move forward with planning your financial future.
- Your house may have appreciated in value, giving you a bit of profit. Use an online calculator to see how much you stand to make from the sale.
- The tax code currently has a special rule for widows and widowers if you sell your home within two years of the day your spouse passed away. A tax break of $500,000 of profit is given if you meet the requirements they describe. You will only need to pay tax on your home’s gain above $500,000.
Losing a spouse is difficult and devastating. Give yourself the time, space, and support you need to prepare for the challenges. Take your time to make the big decisions and enlist expert advice and support when you can.
Article Credit: Guest Contributor - Lucille Rosetti