Lost a Loved One
There are few things more difficult than coping with the death of a loved one. On top of the emotional strain of losing someone you love, you also may find yourself planning a funeral, tending to final wishes — and settling important financial issues.
But when you are dealing with the immediate struggles of coping with a death, it can be difficult to know what needs to be done or where you should start.
If you're the surviving spouse
Decisions you make now will impact your future, so it's important that you're emotionally ready to start sorting through finances. When you are, this is what we suggest as a starting point:
- Assess your immediate financial needs and make sure the basics are covered while your spouse's estate is being settled.
- Consider your spouse's wishes concerning their estate and be ready to communicate those wishes.
- Gather your spouse's important legal and financial information.
- Reach out to professional advisors who are knowledgeable about estate settlement and inheritance topics. They can help you review legal documents and provide guidance for how to proceed.
Resources for Survivors
Survivor Checklist: https://www.balancepro.net/education/pdf/survivingspouse.pdf
Social Security Website: https://www.ssa.gov/
Find an attorney: https://www.martindale.com
Frequently asked questions from survivors
1. "Why survivors?" Those who lost a loved one face challenges others may not understand. I should know, I lost my mother at a young age and it has shaped considerably who I am. Widows and widowers face emotional and financial challenges unlike other groups of people, I use my personal and professional experience to help.
2. "Will I have enough to live on?" This is an extremely important and common question for the surviving spouse. Pension income maybe reduced, social security income may be reduced so there are naturally legitimate concerns. I start every plan with a review of current cash flow needs which will help with budgeting and forecasting. I then run various future projections to help you gauge the probability of success. This is a good conversation starter. If the cash flow doesn't look good, we then discuss your options - such as downsizing the house or creating an income stream from your investments by using dividend paying stocks or bonds for instance.
3. "How does Social Security work?" Few things in life are more complicated than Social Security. Luckily there is a widower's or survivor's benefit to Social Security. This can start as early as age 60, but taking it early may not be in your best interest. Our Social Security Analyzer can help you determine what is the best way to take Social Security.
4. "What is our process?" There is a complimentary consultation to start, where we both learn about each other. From there if you decide to go forward we have a data gathering session. Here we discuss your goals, income and cash flow needs, investments, insurances and other financial planning considerations such as should you pay off the mortgage? Finally, we meet again to discuss your financial plan.
5. "How do we charge for our services?" There is a complimentary consultation to start where we discuss your situation. In that meeting I usually can quote a fee for service. I can work on a hourly basis or per project. Our fee is very competitive as we do not want it to be an obstacle. The financial planning fee is also refundable if you are unsatisfied with our work. We have a contract we both sign and if for whatever reason you are unhappy with the analysis, we will refund 100% of your financial planning fee. I can also get paid for managing money or brokering any insurance products you may need like long term care insurance. As an independent company we work with several money managers and insurance carriers. Rest assured, all fees will be fully disclosed before you engage in any service or product.