Advice for Seniors Facing Financial Challenges in the Wake of Grief

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Advice for Seniors Facing Financial Challenges in the Wake of Grief


Losing a spouse is a hardship in many ways. On top of the grief and emotional stress there can be a number of lifestyle issues requiring your attention, not the least of which are certain financial decisions. Here is some advice to help navigate this difficult journey.


Traveling a new road. Tackling financial decisions following the loss of your loved one can be overwhelming, especially if your spouse was the person who managed most of the bookkeeping. Even if you normally are the one who handles the money, doing so from here on will be different. To get started, CNBC suggests assembling basic information relating to your cash accounts. Gather the data for any checking, savings and money market accounts that were held jointly, in only your name, or held by your spouse. Determine how you can access the accounts and make notes of the balances. You will need to retitle your accounts and some professionals recommend adding a joint account holder or establishing someone with power of attorney, such as one of your children. These are significant issues and can be very emotional. Get help from a trustworthy friend or family member if the stress is too much for you.


Get some advice. Reaching out to professional advisors can provide you with advice tailored to your circumstances. Reach out to your accountant for help understanding your new tax situation, including any new deductions you might be entitled to receive and what you will need to file. You should also connect with an attorney to walk you through the probate process. A financial advisor can help with planning for your future. Connect with your spouse’s life

insurance companies to start the process of collecting your benefit. Also reach out to the Social Security Administration to notify them of the death. If your spouse was collecting a Social Security benefit, inquire about applying for survivor benefits.


Things to consider. According to US News & World Report, many people make spur of the moment, major spending decisions following the loss of a spouse. While it may seem cathartic to remodel the house, buy a new vehicle or take a vacation, those expenditures can put you into a precarious financial position. Even if family members are experiencing financial hardships, it’s important to keep perspective, remembering you will likely need to rely on any insurance benefits or other income for your own expenses. You might choose to help someone with small concerns, such as a car repair or utility bill, but you should rein in the desire to make more generous moves until you have time to process your new position. In fact, many seniors decide to sell their homes to free up cash for their own living expenses and medical costs. You can use an online calculator to estimate your home’s worth when weighing your options. However as some professionals advise, talking with a real estate agent can give you a better picture of your home’s value, based on local sales and market trends.


Make a budget. Once you have a grasp of the changes in your income and any other substantial alterations you need to make in your lifestyle, you can firm up your new monthly budget. This is a step you should take regardless of whether you and your spouse kept a budget together; it’s a step toward creating a financial path for your own future security. Calculate how much income you make from all sources, and list out your monthly expenses. Include your firm numbers, like the house payment, car payment, utilities and such. Also include flexible expenses like your groceries and clothing. Reduce your income by your expenses, and work with your more flexible expenses until you reach a zero balance. You can put money into savings or reduce flexible expenses as needed to reach zero.


Your new financial path will probably feel rocky at first. Gather your resources, get good advice, and prepare for your future. This journey may be a painful one, but you can travel it safely with careful planning.


Image courtesy of Pixabay

Article provided by Sara Bailey

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