The death of a spouse and life partner is a devastating loss. This makes it crucial for the surviving husband or wife to make sound decisions in the aftermath. —especially financial—to avoid further losses. For seniors, the prospect of making financial decisions following such emotional upheaval can be overwhelming, which is why it’s equally as important for children and loved ones to step up and provide much-needed support and assistance. Average Joe Finances outlines some ways you can help your senior loved ones navigate this complex new world, safeguard their hard-earned assets, and ultimately, move on in relative comfort and security.
Ask for help
Even under normal circumstances, the financial arena can be confusing to traverse—even more so when you’re a senior grieving the loss of your partner, or even just as a loved one lending your assistance. It’s prudent, therefore, to consult with a financial advisor who can provide guidance to ensure that sound decisions are made.
Beyond that, a financial advisor can also help educate seniors on the various options available to them following such a grave loss, running the gamut from estate planning to taxes to investments. Such expertise will help break through the fog of grief, ensuring that concrete plans are made for the future.
Also tap into affordable services for jobs you’re no longer able to complete. For instance, you can easily find a professional contractor who can clean gutters near you by using an online service directory like Angi, which also provides ratings and customer reviews. Be sure to get a detailed estimate upfront to avoid any unexpected costs.
Take care of the paperwork
Next Avenue points out that one of the first steps that need to be taken following a death is getting paperwork sorted out. It’s tedious but necessary in moving forward, as documentation will be required at almost every financial turn. No doubt, this is one of the best and most important ways that you can help a senior widow or widower who may not see the urgency of this step in their grief.
Having a checklist is good practice to keep you on track so you don’t leave anything out. Fundamentally, you’ll need to ensure that there are several copies of the death certificate on hand, as well as Social Security information and financial documents like insurance policies, credit card information, and more.
File for benefits
With paperwork in hand, you can then help your loved one file for benefits. This is especially important for seniors as these can provide for their living and healthcare needs and guarantee their safety and security for years to come.
At the most basic level, AARP notes that a senior may be eligible for Social Security benefits, such as survivor benefits and pension. There may also be benefits from insurance policies, bank and investment accounts, and even the late spouse’s employer, as well as their last will and testament, if present.
Similarly, there may also be pending financial obligations like credit card debt, loans, and taxes left behind. More often than not, the surviving spouse is legally obligated to take care of these, so it’s good practice to help your senior loved one take stock of these possible expenses and have a plan in place to take care of them before they add up.
Lastly, downsizing can be a logical next step for seniors following the death of a life partner in most cases, so it’s a good idea to help your loved one decide if this is their best course of action at this juncture. Generally, a senior can benefit from living independently in a smaller space with fewer responsibilities and worries, such as that offered by independent living communities. As a plus, such an option also offers the perks of community living, which gives seniors opportunities to have fun and socialize.
Of course, budget is also a consideration, depending on location. So take the time to visit several communities with your loved one to find the best fit, both in budget and amenities.
Moving on after the death of a beloved life partner can be challenging in many ways, including financially. But by simply devoting your time and attention, you can provide the much-needed help and support that your senior loved one desperately needs at this time, which, in itself, is rewarding enough.