It happens to us all eventually.  Death.  But how do you cope and make the transition to widowhood without financially jeopardizing your lifestyle?  It may be unpleasant and even uncomfortable but couples who make time to discuss contingencies before their partners death, make this transition easier for the surviving spouse.  Here are a few things to consider: 

The probate process: 

Because all assets transfer upon death, knowing and deciding how these assets are titled is crucial in making sure they are properly designated to avoid probate.  Probate is an expense that can easily be avoided with a few simple planning steps.

 

Assess your cash flow:

It is common to want to make a large purchase, like a long vacation or give generously to children or grandchildren but before you do, take the time to look at your finances.  Its vital to consider the impact this could have on your future finances.  

 

Your own network:

Your family will no doubt be there for emotional support but you will need to consider who will be there for your financial support.  This network should include an estate planning attorney as well as a financial advisor.  Both will be essential with helping to objectively navigate your future with their expertise. 

 

Updating accounts:

Beneficiary and ownership information will need to be amended.   This is something oftentimes overlooked but there could be significant repercussions if the desired changes are not made.

 

The death of a spouse is easily one of the most devastating events a person will experience and particularly stressful for the surviving spouse who may not have played an active role in the household finances. An open dialogue and a plan can lessen that burden.  Be proactive!