Nothing can be more painful and tiring than facing the sudden death of a loved one. The pressure can get even worse when it becomes your responsibility to settle the estate and organize finances.
Fortunately, there are ways and steps you can take to make things more manageable.
If you face such a loss, the first and foremost step you should take is to notify others close to your family, including relatives, friends, colleagues, and anybody who might help with the funeral preparations. Those people will be a valuable support network for you while handling the business side of things – making it more bearable.
Once you overcome the initial shock, get in touch with your financial advisor, attorney, accountant, and insurance companies. If your spouse was still working or had retirement benefits, contact their employer to learn if there are benefits you are eligible to receive. Try to sort out these things as soon as you can.
Getting expert advice is always recommended. A funeral home helps you get copies of death certificates, veteran benefits, and Social Security; similarly, your trusted advisers can help you with decisions related to finances, taxes, and insurance. Don’t hesitate to ask for help. It’s better to get guidance at every step, even if it’s just to reassure you, then it is to scramble in the dark.
Collect important documents
Before you make any decisions, gather all financial records and documents related to investment accounts, insurance policies, Social Security, and retirement benefits. If there is a will or a trust, be sure to understand its instructions and act accordingly. If you have an estate planner or reliable financial guide, they can help you navigate the terms of any estate planning your spouse chose.
It will also be good to organize important records like birth and marriage certificates. To submit claims and apply for financial benefits, you’ll most likely need to provide a death certificate. So, requesting extra copies with your initial request is a good idea.
It’s frustrating when you can’t find the documents you need at a particular time. So, it’s best to have a filing system or way of tracking all this information.
Consider creating individual file folders for each account or specific task you are working on. Keep separate files for investments, insurance, estate records, taxes, and so on. While you should put them somewhere secure, be sure to store all these files together in a safe place that is still easily accessible to you. You may even want to consider maintaining a digital record of all these documents.
Maintain a phone and mail system
During such a traumatic situation, you may find it overwhelming to have to deal with various decisions. All these emotions and stress can make organization or everyday responsibilities difficult – leading you to forget important details.
To keep track of your tasks, set up a phone and mail system, and maintain it properly to record any calls or emails – both incoming and outgoing. You should make notes of all said calls and emails. Also, create a list of names with phone numbers of people and organizations you might need to contact in the future.
Assess short-term income and expenditure
During such a crisis, you might face immediate expenditures like funeral expenses. You also may need to cover the cost of outstanding debts such as an automobile loan, credit cards, or a mortgage. Be patient and don’t panic; if you are the beneficiary of an insurance policy or there are assets in investment accounts, these funds may be available to help you with this. If need be, you may want to speak with your credit card provider to postpone the payment of the debts if additional time is required.
Here are few things to keep in mind during this challenging and demanding time:
• Don’t make hasty decisions
• Don’t spend money on impulse
• Don’t move out from your existing home until you evaluate your options
• Don’t immediately sell or give away your loved one’s possessions
• Don’t lend or loan money without reviewing your financial status, your present and future financial obligations, and other requirements
The death of a spouse is devastating. Coping with the changes to your world and the loss of someone you love will take time. That’s why it is best to have a course of action. You may be grieving, but knowing which step to take next will lighten the load. It will also ensure you and any dependents are taken care of in the future.
Remember: if you feel overwhelmed, seek out help. Whether it is professional guidance for your emotional well-being, estate, or financial stability, an experienced individual can help take a burden off your shoulders.