How to Help a Senior Loved One Make Financial Decisions After the Loss of a Spouse

By: Lucille Rosetti
Monday, June 25, 2018

When a loved one dies, there are a lot of complicated feelings and responsibilities that must be handled. For the individual who is left after a spouse passes away, there are so many things to think about that it can be overwhelming. One of the most stressful things a senior must deal with after a spouse dies is figuring out financial details and how to move on, especially if the loss came unexpectedly.


Fortunately, there are several things you can do to help your loved one get a handle on their finances and make good decisions that will help them move on carefully and safely. Knowing what to expect is important, and this can mean anything from helping with funeral arrangements or going through documents to figuring out the details of insurance policies.


Keep reading to find out how to help your senior loved one make financial decisions after the loss of a spouse.


Find Out If There Were Plans in Place

While no one can prepare for the death of a spouse, many couples do have a plan in place in the event of such a loss, whether it’s a life insurance plan that will help pay for the funeral expenses or a burial plot that’s already paid for. Talk to your loved one about what kind of plans they may have made with their loved one so both of you can get a good idea of what sort of costs they’ll incur.


Take Care of the Most Important Things First

The last thing your loved one needs to worry about during such a difficult time is how to pay for big expenses weeks or months down the road, so help them take care of only the most important things first. Bills that are due right away, mortgage payments, and funeral arrangements are the most pressing expenses; everything else can wait.


Discourage Opening Up New Lines of Credit

After losing a spouse, some individuals might be tempted to open up new lines of credit in order to secure a backup plan for the future, but credit cards can actually end up causing more trouble in the long run. Discourage your loved one from opening up new credit cards, and go over their budget with them to see if there are places they can save money, such as trading in the car for something smaller or making the home more eco-friendly to reduce utility bills. You might encourage your loved one to seek the help of a financial planner if they are worried about their retirement funds; go here for more information on how to get started.


Get Paperwork Together

The time directly following the loss of a spouse can be a blur, and it’s hard to remember everything that needs to be done. Help your loved one by obtaining at least 20 copies of the death certificate, which will be necessary for the life insurance company, the social security office, and the bank or other financial institution where joint accounts are held. Getting all the important paperwork together and keeping these documents in a safe place is imperative and will help your loved one stay organized during an extremely hard time.


Helping someone you care about get through a devastating loss can be difficult for you, too, so it’s important to take care of yourself during this time. Reduce stress as much as possible for both you and your loved one, and stay organized to prevent anxiety. With the right plan, you can help make things a little easier during a heartbreaking time.


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