Blog | 5 P’s of Life
After your spouse’s death, your grief is often pushed aside as you deal with many decisions. It’s often overwhelming as you try to hold yourself together when dealing with funeral arrangements, family dysfunction, and financial matters.
You may find yourself leaning on family members and friends for guidance. But for financial matters, turn to the professionals – your financial advisor, tax advisor, and estate planning attorney.
This team of professionals will provide insights based on their area of expertise. Sometimes they will offer the same advice. Other times, they may offer different perspectives, which will help you make the right decision for your situation.
Give yourself at least six months before making major financial decisions such as selling assets, changing the investment strategy of accounts, paying off liabilities, etc. If anyone is pressuring you to take action immediately, they may be operating from a personal motive.
If someone will receive money because of your action, be cautious. Look out for those who will receive a commission from an immediate sale or even family members who will receive a larger inheritance if you sell assets.
The financial matter you’ll need to deal with immediately is access to money. You need to address where money will come from (income) and who you need to pay (expenses).
For income, identify where your money is located. Begin by listing all financial accounts.
Next, list all life insurance policies. If your spouse was working, check to see if his employer offered a group life insurance policy. Also, include any employer-sponsored retirement accounts, such as a 401(k) plan.
Some financial institutions and insurance companies may require an original death certificate. Request from the Funeral Director multiple original death certificates. (It’s easier to request upfront from the Funeral Director instead of later from the state’s vital records department.)
Some states have two types of death certificates – a long form and a short form. The long form includes the cause of death, which is considered confidential health information.
If your spouse was receiving income from a pension or Social Security, they might require the original long form.
Next, identify who you need to pay. The reason this step is important is to avoid late charges and accrued finance charges, as well as to keep your utilities on in your home.
Start with all expenses relating to your home. Your spouse may have a list of these items. You can also look for paper statements or emails with payment reminders.
Some expenses may be set up on autopay. Your statement or email reminder will note if you’re set up on autopay.
Next, look for vehicle expenses such as car payment and auto insurance. After those items, look for credit card payments and other debt that require monthly payments.
Your credit card statements will help you identify other ongoing expenses set up on autopay. As you’re going through this list of expenses, make sure you pay for your medical, dental, and vision insurance.
After your spouse dies, there are so many items to take care of while coping with grief. It’s easy to put things off, but you do need to address your access to money and payment of bills sooner rather than later
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Niv Persaud, CFP®, CDFA™, RICP®, CRPC®, is the Founder of Transition Planning & Guidance, LLC. Life is more than money. It’s about living the lifestyle you want and can afford. For that reason, Niv consults with clients on money, life, and work. Her approach capitalizes on techniques she learned throughout her career, including as a management consultant, executive recruiter, and financial advisor. Her services include developing spending plans, comprehensive financial plans, divorce financial reviews, retirement plans. Niv actively gives back to her community through her volunteer efforts. She believes in living life to the fullest by cherishing friendships, enjoying the beauty of nature and laughing often — even at herself. Her favorite quote is by Erma Bombeck, “When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left and could say ‘I used everything you gave me.’”