Financial Planning Checklist for Recent Widows

Financial Planning Checklist for Recent Widows

No matter the circumstances that led up to it, being a widow can be a profoundly difficult adjustment. It is especially challenging when you also have to grapple with complex financial decisions, many of which can have far-reaching implications on your future and the present. 

We understand how daunting this all can seem. That’s why we’ve put together a comprehensive checklist specifically tailored to help you take charge of your finances, protect your assets, and prepare for the financial road ahead.

This article examines the following:

  • Processing your benefits & proceeds
  • Adjusting your financial lifestyle 
  • Preparing for the future & your legacy
  • Considering professional wealth management

Processing Your Benefits & Proceeds

After experiencing the death of a spouse, things like your savings and assets can seem trivial. It’s easy to want to set it all aside and forget it for a while. Unfortunately, however, a little while can easily become a month… and then a year… and in today’s economy, that’s like driving somewhere with a brick on the pedal and your eyes on the backseat.

A qualified wealth manager can assist you some important financial tasks that should be addressed relatively quickly.  The financial well-being of your loved ones and yourself may depend on them. 

  • Applying for pension survivor options. As a pension survivor, you may be eligible for a pension benefit or retirement savings from your spouse’s former employer. Additionally, other pension-specific rules may allow you to receive or increase pension payments depending on how eligible for benefits you are. Make sure that you are informed about all the options available to you as a widow. 
  • Life insurance proceeds. These often come in the form of traditional death benefit payouts or annuities. Additionally, the primary insurance amount can provide the flexibility to curate a path that works best for your current and future needs (such as continuing to pay off joint debts, purchasing luxury items of your choice, or traveling).

Adjusting Your Financial Lifestyle 

Your financial situation has changed. As a result, you must now take necessary precautions for your long-term financial security. By taking control over access rights, you allow yourself peace of mind and unrestricted access to all legal documents. 

  • Change the title on your home and other assets. This might be the easiest step on this entire checklist. Changing the title on your home and other assets ensures that all documents are updated, giving you a comprehensive overview of all of your entitlements. It also helps protect against liabilities or potential disputes arising from the unfortunate circumstances accompanying the loss of life. 
  • Make sure that your bills continue getting paid on time. 

Financial independence can mean thinking that money is the least of your problems. However, this is exactly why it can be important to make sure that the bills are still paid on time. Your lifestyle shouldn’t include worrying about late payments and high-interest rates. Instead, ensuring that everything is in order now can reap dividends down the road.

Preparing for the Future & Your Legacy

With any change in life circumstances, updating your own estate planning documents should be considered—to help ensure that your family’s future remains secure going forward. 

  • Update your will and estate planning documents. Even an affluent new widow should do this to ensure that the wishes expressed are still valid in light of recent events. Adding a power of attorney can help, as well. Taking time to update these strategic documents now will help make sure that unfavorable surprises do not arise down the line.

Despite Inflation & Market Volatility, It’s Still Possible to Maintain Financial Independence. 

Considering Professional Wealth Management

In addition to analyzing your financial security and asset protection for the long term, you must also manage the stress and guilt that sometimes come with inheriting great wealth. Considering the rampant inflation devaluing the dollar and 2022’s volatile stock market, planning your best saving and investing routes into the future won’t be easy.

However, you are not required to tackle everything alone! Securing a professional wealth manager can significantly diminish the burden while allowing you to stay 100% in control of your finances. Think of them as a guide, an experienced financial advisor helping you plan out finances (as well as adjust plans over time). 

They can help you navigate the often overwhelming world of investments, taxes, estate planning, and more. Over time, they can assist you with increasing your financial literacy. That, in turn, tends to facilitate better-informed investment decisions.

At the same time, he or she serves as a wealth manager, overseeing your savings and investing according to your planned specifications when you’re unavailable. With undivided attention, they can leverage sophisticated strategies to ensure that your needs are taken care of both today and in the future. 

As you can imagine, serving the affluent this way is a position sought by many within the financial industry. This makes choosing carefully paramount, but there’s a relatively easy way to begin: Look for a fiduciary financial advisor. 

This is much more than a classification. It means that the firm is accountable to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)—and could be fined heavily for professional misconduct. Just as importantly, it also means that they are sworn to put your interests as a client first at all times, even if doing so were to cost them money of their own.

ViaWealth takes pride in being a fiduciary wealth manager specializing in concierge service to financially independent women. Schedule an appointment to learn more.

ViaWealth, LLC is a Registered Investment Adviser. Information in this article is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be an offer or solicitation for the sale or purchase of any specific securities or other types of investments. Investing in the securities markets involve risk of principal and unless otherwise stated, returns are not guaranteed. Be sure to consult with a qualified financial adviser and/or tax professional before making any financial decisions. Past performance is not indicative of future performance.

More about the author: Woody Rash

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