Helping Your Senior Loved One Navigate Financial Decisions After A Spouse’s Death
The death of a spouse can be an overwhelming and difficult experience, especially when it comes to managing finances. For seniors, the added stress of navigating important financial decisions can be particularly challenging. If you’re helping a senior loved one manage their finances after losing their spouse, AfterTalk shares tips to make the process as smooth as possible.
Notify Insurance Companies
One of the first steps is to notify all insurance companies of your loved one’s loss. This includes homeowner’s, auto, and life insurance policies. Contact each company and provide the necessary information to cancel or update the policies. Depending on the policies, you may need to provide a copy of the death certificate.
Decide Whether to Sell the Family Home
Another financial decision that may need to be made is whether to sell the family home to help free up cash for bills and expenses. This decision should be made carefully, taking into consideration your loved one’s emotional attachment to the home. If selling the home makes sense, work with a real estate agent to determine a fair market value and assist with the sale process. You can also use a home-value calculator to get an instant estimate.
Reach Out to Former Employers
It is essential to contact your loved one’s deceased spouse’s former employer if they were employed at the time of their death. Doing so will help determine whether there are any life insurance benefits or retirement benefits available. These benefits can provide an additional source of income for your loved one and assist with managing their finances after the loss of their spouse.
Change Titles on Joint Accounts
It’s important to change the titles on all joint bank, investment, and credit accounts. Work with each financial institution to ensure that accounts are updated correctly. This includes checking accounts, savings accounts, credit cards, investment accounts, and any other financial accounts that were held jointly with the deceased spouse.
Filing taxes for the deceased spouse is a crucial step that needs to be taken after the loss of a spouse. It’s important to obtain all necessary paperwork such as W-2s and 1099s and file taxes for the year of your spouse’s death. If you’re unsure how to proceed or not comfortable doing this on your own, consider hiring a tax professional to assist.
Consult with a Financial Advisor
Consulting with a financial advisor can be beneficial in helping your loved one navigate the complex financial decisions that come with the loss of a spouse. A financial advisor can provide guidance on estate planning, retirement accounts, and investment strategies. Make sure to work with a reputable financial advisor who has experience working with seniors.
Sell Their Business
If your loved one’s deceased spouse owned a business, there may be additional steps required to sell or transfer ownership. This can be a complex process, and it’s important to work with an attorney or accountant who has experience in business succession planning. Getting a professional business valuation before selling a business can provide insights into the company’s worth and help ensure a fair price, as well as identify areas for improvement to increase the value of the business.
Experiencing a loss of a spouse is undoubtedly a challenging experience, but it’s crucial to manage finances and plan for the future. It’s important to notify insurance companies of loss, help your loved one determine if selling the family home can help free up cash, and provide assistance with selling the business owned by the deceased, among other important considerations. During this difficult time, it’s essential to be patient and compassionate and seek professional assistance when needed.
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