Losing someone you love is a very difficult thing to go through. The emotional aspect of the loss is tremendous. However, the financial impact is one that should be considered as well. Losing a spouse may mean an unexpected transition from living on two incomes to one. Because of this, it can be a substantial financial blow. Use these tips to help you navigate your financial life after losing a loved one.
Tip #1: Work With a Financial Planner
If you aren't already working with a trusted financial professional, now's the time. A financial advisor or planner can help navigate the next steps after losing a loved one so you don't have to. They'll work with you through the important decisions that could impact your financial wellbeing for decades to come. At a time when you feel lost and unsure, your advisor can provide steady guidance and a listening ear.
Tip #2: Determine if They Had a Will
You probably know whether your loved one created a will or not, but you'll want to be sure you have access to the most up-to-date version. If you don't know, contact the lawyer that they may have used. If you are still stumped, then it would be a good idea to get a lawyer of your own to help you. Having access to their will can help you understand their final wishes and keep their estate from entering intestacy.
Tip #3: Contact Life Insurance Providers
There are two possible places to look for a life insurance policy. They may have had life insurance through their employer, or they may have had it from the open market. You will need to contact any life insurance companies that your spouse had a policy and provide them with a death certificate. From there, these companies can help you through the process of receiving a death benefit.
Tip #4: Review Retirement Accounts
It's likely your spouse had a retirement account, whether it was a 401(k) through their employer, an IRA or other savings account type. Check with their employer, bank and financial advisor to get a better sense of what accounts they may have had. As the spouse, it's likely you were named beneficiary of these accounts, which will grant you access to their contents. How you handle the savings account as a beneficiary will depend on the account type. You may be able to become the account owner and continue contributing to the account. In other cases, you may choose to roll the distributions into a new account. You'll want to work with your financial advisor to determine how retirement accounts should be handled.
This is a very tough situation for anyone to deal with, but having the right people on your side can help. Reach out to your financial professional, let them know how you're feeling and where you could use some guidance.
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