Kathleen Rehl, Financial Planner
Kathleen Rehl is both a widow and a financial planner, who counsels others who must handle tasks like investing and paying taxes when emotions are raw and they lack experience.
No irreversible decisions soon after the death of a spouse. Hasty decisions about, say, paying off the mortgage can lead to a lot of regret if you need more liquidity years later.
With important financial decisions, speed can make a mess of things.
What Do I Do Next? A Guide for Widows (A 20-page offering on the website of Timberchase Financial)
Widows can avoid many of the financial pitfalls by keeping just four things in mind.
Some financial tasks you must do within a month or tw of a spouse’s death.
- Keep paying the bills, including any quarterly tax charges.
- Make sure you understand how your health insurance works, if it comes from your dead spouse’s employer.
- Collect on any life insurance policies, especially if cash is running low.
- One problem with rushing to, say, pay off your mortgage is that it may not ultimately be wise to remain in the house.
- The idea of living with one of your children and not being alone may sound wonderful, but maybe think in terms of a long visit first, and then come back and think.
- Adult children may request an advance on their inheritance and they may push all the emotional buttons. Saying no will not be easy. If you have a financial planner or accountant helping you, you can let that professional be the stingy one.
- If you succumb to the advance-on-my-inheritance approach, put it in writing so that there’s no confusion later on why one sibling is getting a bigger share of any future estate than another.
- Once you’re a widow, your budget and long-term planning needs will almost certainly change. Oddly enough, however, many men try to dictate financial advice from the grave. Many men leave concentrated collections of stock along with instructions never to touch it. Your late husband many have been right at the time, but things change. You have every right to alter your investments.