After the death of a loved one, working through the mourning process while also staying on top of practical matters can be a tough balancing act. If your loved one or a spouse of a loved one passes away, covering your financial bases gives you more time to cope and spend time with those you love. Here are five financial conversations that can help you ensure your financial security and look forward optimistically to the future.
- Notify financial parties
When a spouse or partner dies, most people don’t think to call the bank. However, it’s critical that you notify mortgage companies, banks, government agencies, and other institutions. Make sure you have the necessary information about your loved one prepared in advance so that you can streamline the process of closing or checking on accounts. Also, be sure to close any unnecessary subscriptions or memberships that could be a small drain on your accounts.
- Take immediate inventory of your assets
A recent Forbes article mentioned that having a single source of information regarding assets can help manage the costliness of getting your financial situation worked out, and it can ease the financial stress that results from trying to track all the information down. Some of this information might be in a will, and some of it might be with different financial institutions.
It’s particularly critical that you get an idea of assets held in case there are any outstanding debts, which might need to be paid for from the estate’s assets. Having this information can help you make informed decisions about your financial future and prevent people or institutions from profiting during a vulnerable period.
- What happens to the home
After the death of their spouse, many people worry that taking care of their home might be more than they can handle, or that continuing to make home payments might be unaffordable. If there are substantial expenses that need to be paid, selling your home can be a great opportunity to free up some extra money. We do however caution, when one’s mental and emotional state does not lend itself to making such an emotional decision, deferring such a huge decision might be best.
According to the Washington Post, if you are in a position to do so, selling quickly after a loved one’s passing can allow you to take advantage of a tax rule where you can exclude a large portion of the home sale price from taxable income. If you choose to sell, there are a lot of resources that can help you determine your home’s value and put it on the market. Talk to friends or family about finding a realtor you can trust to make the process easy and maximize your financial benefits.
- Monthly income
Many people have to go through a major mindset shift as they figure out how to manage financial decisions on their own. Calculate monthly budgeting and expenses early so that major decisions can be made from a position of budgetary wisdom. Changes in medical bills or recent expenses can make it difficult to get an accurate idea for what a monthly budget will actually look like, so wait a bit to get an accurate rendering of your monthly financial position, then look to the future and start making decisions.
- Live within your means
Right after a spouse dies, people sometimes spend money on home repairs, paying off a mortgage, on a new car, or on some big financial decision. While spending money on necessary items or services can certainly aid in the grieving process, draw a hard line between needs and wants. Carefully track your finances and calculate how much money is required to meet your needs. If you know how much you continuously need to live, then you can use that extra money to pay off the rest of your mortgage or take a nice trip.
Figuring out practical day-to-day affairs can be extremely difficult after a death loss of a spouse, close partner and friend. Reducing financial stress can ease the grieving process and give you a foundation for coping and recovery. Having these conversations with family members or financial advisors can help you take the stress out of financial distress and live the independent life you’ve worked so hard to achieve.
Written by: Lucille Rosetti, TheBereaved.org
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