When a spouse dies, the surviving spouse bears the dual burden of grieving the loss of their loved one and navigating life on their own. Fortunately, many surviving spouses are surrounded by family and friends who genuinely want to help them in as many ways as they can. Help of all kinds can be a blessing during a time of loss, and most help can simply be accepted and appreciated for what it is, an expression of love and kindness from someone who can offer it to the person who needs it.
That said, as you walk through the loss of your loved one, there is one type of “help” that it may be best for you to decline. Advice is something that many people think is helpful, although it can be rather unhelpful. Sometimes people offer advice that they are not qualified to provide, whether because they lack the knowledge that they need to be able to offer sound advice because they lack detailed information about your situation that would enable them to determine whether the opinion that they want to give you applies to your situation or both. This principle applies to many types of advice, but it especially applies to financial advice. The period following the loss of a spouse is an incredibly vulnerable time for the surviving spouse in every way, including in the area of finances.
Financial matters are a vital part of your survival. It is essential that you know that in the days and weeks following the loss of your loved one, there are very few financial matters that are truly urgent and must be attended to at once. For example, funeral arrangements and expenses and current bills must be dealt with now, but almost everything else can wait. If you find that you’re feeling overwhelmed and you know that there are people in your life that you can trust to help you with those tasks, do so. If people are trying to offer you advice about how to deal with assets, retirement accounts, life insurance, and other things, it is a good idea to say “thanks, but no thanks.” Dealing with financial matters involves careful planning and decision making, and it is wise to put those things off, at least for a little while, while you attend to the most critical matter at hand – moving through the process of grief and healing.
Once you’ve worked through the initial shock and upheaval surrounding your loss and arrived at a more stable place in your journey, you can reach out to people who can help you organize and simplify your finances. Once you have matters like accounting for all of you and your spouse’s accounts and making any changes (like claiming life insurance and filing paperwork with Social Security) that you need to make, you can assess your financial situation and think about financial decisions you can make that will provide security for you now and into the future.
If you have lost a loved one and you are ready to begin the process of managing their estate, make an appointment for a consultation with Wichita attorney J. Joseph Weber today. Please call our office at 316-265-7802, or contact us through our website.