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Help Your Loved One Handle the Financial Decisions that Come With the Loss of a Spouse

When seniors go through the loss of their spouse, the major life changes that follow can be overwhelming.

Between the emotional adjustment to life without their partner to the more practical matters like handling financial decisions, it’s a lot for anyone to cope with.

Everyone needs support at this time, and one way you can help is by walking them through the immediate and long-term financial changes they face.

Do a Financial Check-In

The loss of a spouse means your loved one may experience changes to their income.

Since many seniors are living on a fixed income already, one of the first things you should do is take a look at their expenses. Make a list of all bills, and try to get a snapshot of other regular expenses as well.

Fidelity recommends evaluating your loved one’s budget to make sure their expenses are in line with their income, while also allowing for savings.

This is also a good time to look at your loved one’s medical insurance to make sure they have the coverage they need.

Medical care is one of the biggest future expenses your loved should prepare for, and while most adults age 65 and over have Medicare, it’s important to realize that Medicare doesn’t cover all medical costs.

For this reason, many seniors also have a Medicare Advantage plan to cover any additional costs such as prescriptions and dental or vision care.

You can help your loved one learn about the add-on plans that are available from companies like Humana and decide which one fits their needs.

Handle Immediate Needs

Right after someone passes away is not the time to make major financial decisions.

Grief clouds anyone’s judgment, and a surviving spouse needs time to process their emotions along with the realities of their new life. As a caregiver, encourage your loved one to wait on making major money changes, such as rushing into investments.

Help them focus on what needs to be done right away while putting off bigger financial decisions.

The most immediate task is to probate the estate. Getting the assistance of a trusted lawyer will make this process easier. You can also help your loved one understand and collect benefits.

Many people don’t realize they have options when it comes to filing for Social Security. Help your loved one explore their options while also starting the process of collecting any other benefits, such as life insurance and veterans benefits.

Help Moving Forward

It’s very common for one person in a marriage to be the one who primarily handles the finances.

If the spouse who passed away was that person, your loved one may need help getting an understanding of everything.

You can help them learn the basics of managing finances, and you may even want to help with things like managing bills, especially if they are older and have any concerns like memory loss.

Besides the day-to-day maintenance, once a little time has passed, it’s time for your loved one to start thinking about financial decisions for the future.

For example, someone who is widowed may need to reevaluate their own estate plan.

They will likely want to update powers of attorney, along with updating beneficiaries for life insurance policies and other accounts.

A surviving spouse will also need to consider investments and whether their current portfolio still suits their long-term needs.

Unfortunately, older adults who are single are at risk of being taken advantage of.

If the couple has an investment broker or another financial adviser, Forbes recommends checking to make sure that person has a clean record without any history of fraud.

You can also ask your loved one to give you online access to investments so you can make sure trades made on their behalf stay in line with their interests.

Handling these financial changes in the midst of a loss isn’t an easy task. It is important, though, to take the right steps at this critical time to make sure your loved one’s financial future is protected.

Providing this support is a tremendous way you can help through this major life change.