Grief after a loved one's death is gripping and pervasive. I was overwhelmed by it after my mother's passing and witnessed my father and siblings grapple with it in their own ways, too. One thing that grief does not leave ample room for is thinking intentionally about one's finances. However, neglecting to manage the finances after a loved one's death can prove disastrous.
I have compiled a checklist to help navigate your finances following the death of a spouse or loved one. Don't try to navigate this alone. Lean on family, close friends and trusted professionals, just as you do in your grieving.
Looking ahead for surviving spouse
Review insurance, investments and income tax planning for the surviving spouse. Create a retirement income plan. Update the surviving spouse’s estate plan, including the will, revocable living trust, durable power of attorney for finance and advance healthcare directive. Retitle jointly held assets. The one exception: keep joint checking account open for one year. Update beneficiaries on retirement accounts, annuities, life insurance and bank accounts. Share the estate plan with family members.
As you grieve, I recommend that you simplify your life, take control of spending and saving, and do not make any major financial decisions for one year. Be good to yourself and courageous enough to lean on others for support.
Beth Carroll is a CPA and a Professional Daily Money Manager. Her company, Cornerstone Money Management, LLC, helps seniors in their homes with billpay, financial organization and cash flow management. You may reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or 401-323-4895.