Organizing your Finances After Your Spouse Has Passed Away

Losing a life partner can be one of the most devastating periods of life. On top of it all is the terrible realization that you will have to get your financial house in order because, unfortunately, we don’t know the future. As I tell my clients, if we could put a clear “end” date in our financial plans, the planning process would be so much simpler. However, that’s not how life works, so staying organized along the way, and knowing what to expect, will save you many future headaches—especially in those dark days of grief when life keeps moving forward and financial decisions must be made. Here are some tips to help you better prepare to face one of life’s hardest moments, and organize your finances after the passing of a spouse:

Collect Important Documents

Gather all financial records (investment account statements, bank statements, insurance policies, retirement account statements, prior year’s tax return, estate documents (will and/or trust), and request many copies of the death certificate.

Update Your Net Worth Statement

Review all your assets and liabilities on one spreadsheet to show current balances of all accounts/assets. Be sure to include all liabilities like the mortgage, credit card debt, and any other outstanding debt. Your financial advisor can assist with this process.

Compare Your Income and Expenses

Compile all sources of income (salary, Social Security, rental income, pensions, etc.) versus your expenses (mortgage/rent, utilities, healthcare, insurance, groceries, transportation, entertainment, etc.).

Create a Budget

Realize that your new life will be much different than your previous life and estimate income and expenses accordingly. Facing a significant lifestyle shift after losing a partner is not uncommon, so be realistic.

Consult with a Fee-Only Financial Advisor

This is not the time to guess what you should do with your finances, nor rely on your friend, Google. Seek out the guidance of a fiduciary financial advisor who puts your interests first and will not try to sell you products. You will need a full financial plan that looks not only at investments, but long-term retirement planning, estate planning, risk management, and tax planning.

Put Yourself First

Perhaps for the first time in a long time, this phase of life is all about you. When friends and family offer to lend a hand, take them up on it. Take care of your emotional health. Remember that you’re not the first person to go through this difficult process and seek the services of a therapist or group counseling. You are not alone.

Overall, this process takes patience. Allow yourself grace as you encounter uncharted territory. Rely on experts for financial guidance on how to organize your finances after the passing of your spouse, sooner rather than later. A sound financial plan will provide you peace of mind to focus on your new path.

Have more questions? Contact Us

Missie Beach, CFP®, CDFA®
Senior Financial Advisor

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By Published On: March 15, 2023

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